13 Reasons Camden is One of the Best Workplaces for Women
Camden was named 13 on Fortune’s 100 Best Workplaces for Women. To celebrate lucky #13 this blog series will highlight 13 different women working at Camden. Now, it’s hard to only pick 13, but we are focusing on women of all different backgrounds, cultures, and talents. To kick us off we are talking Construction with Elizabeth Bryson from our Facilities department.
Taken at Camden
Ladies, grab your hard hats!
Hard hats, yellow vests, construction zone… Typically those items are associated with men, but that’s not the case here at Camden. At the start of my college career Construction didn’t cross my mind as a career choice. I attended Texas A&M University studying architecture because I loved drawing and math and thought it would be a great fit, but I ended up not liking it. One summer in college I got a job working for a construction company and I was immediately hooked. I went back that fall and started taking construction classes.
I came to Camden originally because the general contractor I worked for was relocating me, which I didn’t want to do. A recruiter from Camden called and asked if I was interested in working for a company where I could be involved in more than just one side of construction. I jumped at the opportunity!
I love that my job at Camden has given me the opportunity to see a project from design through to operations. Typically, that means I would get involved soon after the land is purchased and an architect is hired. I would work through the design process and stay with the project through construction. In design, that might be everything from working through details of how to handle trash (Yes, there are lots of conversations about trash during the design of a project!) all the way to getting the project permitted.
This was something I missed working as a general contractor. You really only come on board when you are ready to break ground, and once the project opens you are on to the next project. I feel such a reward at Camden seeing the project from start to finish and knowing that my decisions directly impact the outcome.
Leaving the nest and flying back home stronger
At a certain point in my career, I was ready to push to another level, but Camden didn’t have any openings in construction at the time. I wasn’t ready to go to another department, so I spread my wings and pursued another opportunity outside of Camden at a general contractor. I got great experience, but I really missed that start-to-finish work I did at Camden.
At the same time, it turns out there was a need back at Camden for someone in the facilities group, and I came back. I am able to take my construction experience to help keep our properties in top shape. Of course, my Camden family was another perk to coming back to the company.
As a Project Manager in Facilities, I work on a little of everything. Sometimes I work on special projects that affect many of our properties, such as surge protection so lightning doesn’t affect our entry gates, and community sign replacements so future residents can see us from the road. I also work on specific larger projects with a single community. Even though it took me a roundabout way of getting here, I’m so grateful that Camden has been here for me at key steps in my career to let me excel to the next level.
Camden is more than just a workplace- It’s where my family is
Working for Camden brings a lot of perks in life- especially the rent discount - but my favorite benefit isn't on a Camden perks list. I love our family atmosphere and the fact that I can approach anyone for help or offer it when it’s needed.
I have truly enjoyed my role in Facilities because I have more interaction with our staff at the communities. I love getting to know folks across Camden because it feels like my family just gets bigger and bigger. Our culture is so rooted in our values and it really spreads across the entire company from East Coast to West Coast. No matter if I’m meeting a new face or seeing someone again, I get a warm greeting and a hug.
I get a tear in my eye when I think of the Camden family, especially one incident that happened at work. After finding out about a death in my family while I was at work, my coworkers were there for me through every step of the grieving process.
That’s Camden though, we are a large company, but I would do anything for my Camden family and they were there for me when I needed them the most.
Supporting a stronger network of women
As I said, other companies I’ve worked for have been general contractors, and construction is a field that is predominately male. It has only been in recent years that more women are choosing construction for a career.
One of the biggest differences at Camden is there are so many more women in all aspects of our business – from operations to accounting. I’ve been lucky to work for companies that are supportive of women in this industry. But at Camden, I have more role models and women to turn to for advice or to learn from.
Camden is also supportive of my involvement in the Houston Chapter of Commercial Real Estate Women or CREW. This year I am serving on the CREW board for Houston. I appreciate that Camden supports the opportunity for me to develop leadership skills through CREW as a committee chair and board member.
Camden pays for my membership and allows for me to take time off work to attend meetings and further my growth as a leader. I also enjoy meeting other women in the industry and learning through their experiences as well.
It’s also been a great networking tool. If I am looking for a vendor or sub to provide a service for one of our projects in another market, I can always call on a CREW member there!
Stepping away from the office
Outside of Camden, I have a hobby that brings joy and relaxation to my life. Since I love drawing and math, quilting has become my creative outlet. Although architecture didn’t work out for me in college, I still use a lot of the same skills quilting. Anywhere from designing and placing the geometric shapes to sizing the quilt.
There are a lot of quilters at Camden, but beyond my CREW network and work-family, I have fellow quilters. This hobby has allowed me to build relationships throughout the community. I don’t sell my quilts and they usually take me awhile to finish, but I have given them as gifts.
Typically quilting is passed down from mother to daughter, but after learning how to quilt from my college roommate; I taught my Mom how to quilt. It’s now something we share a love for and do together. Every year, I attend the International Quilt Festival which is one of the largest conventions that comes to Houston each year.
What makes Camden a great place to work for women?
Camden supports all employees, and that’s one of the reasons it is a great place for women. I know my gender is never an issue here because Camden provides leadership development and support.
Another great thing about this company is while we work hard, Camden also understands the need to balance work with the needs of our families. I always joke that I remember when I started at Camden I asked my boss the first day what the work hours were. He said, “When you need to be here, you better be here, and if you don’t, go home.”
We all work hard at Camden, but when I need to leave to take care of something at home or a doctor’s appointment; I have the flexibility to do that. I have an older dog, and sometimes I need to shift my schedule to get her to the vet, especially when I am traveling.
Camden's ranking of #13 on Fortune's “100 Best Workplaces for Women” is a major accomplishment not only for the company but for the women that work here. I love working here!
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