Catherine Joslin Becomes Webcor Concrete’s 1st Female Superintendent

Catherine Joslin is one of Webcor Concrete’s (WCG) fastest-growing field leaders and the first female superintendent in WCG’s history.

March 20, 2023

Employee Spotlight

Unlike most construction professionals, Webcor Concrete Superintendent Catherine Joslin’s interest in the AEC industry wasn’t sparked by a childhood passion for building Lego towers or a dad, uncle, or grandfather who was a career-long builder. Her decision to study civil engineering was inspired by something a bit less common but just as simple: a near-lifelong curiosity about bridges.

“When I was little, I remember looking out the car window and admiring the construction of the new Carquinez bridge in Martinez,” she says. “I remember always wondering how they built something like that. Several years later, I sort of stumbled into civil engineering when I was looking into college major options in high school and decided to study it on a whim.”

Little did Catherine know, that impulsive decision was the starting point of an exemplary career trajectory that’s propelled her from office-based college intern to superintendent on-the-rise. Today, she is one of Webcor Concrete’s (WCG) fastest-growing field leaders and the first female superintendent in WCG’s history. She’s become a go-to subject matter expert (SME) for Revit—a 3D software WCG uses to model projects and create 2D shop drawings for the field—and taught the majority of WCG’s project engineers, senior project engineers, assistant superintendents, and project managers how to effectively use the complex program in their own roles so they can better serve their project teams. Catherine’s also been instrumental in launching Webcor Timber, Webcor Craft’s newest self-perform division, and is  preplanning the mass timber portion of 828 Brannan, one of Webcor Timber’s first projects. She's currently the superintendent leading the Building 610 concrete scope at the SFPUC Biosolids Digester Facilities Project (BDFP), where she’s worked since mid- February.

“Catherine’s estimating work for mass timber projects over a year ago and current role leading 828 Brannan have made her a key player in Webcor Timber’s success,” says Webcor Craft Superintendent Matt Miller, who referred Catherine to Webcor in late 2016. “Catherine’s unique ability to discover innovative solutions and solve complex problems has been key to her rapid growth within WCG. She uses the resources around her, including her colleagues and WCG’s field personnel, to help strategize the best solution to every challenge she faces.”

An Unlikely Path to Webcor

Like most construction professionals who pursue the field route, it didn’t take Catherine long to realize she wanted to spend her days right where all the action happened—in the field, getting her hands dirty. After finishing a college internship that confined her to the walls of a corporate office, she knew she’d never be happy working on the project management side of construction.

“I didn’t have any family or connections in the industry, but there were a lot of construction opportunities at Cal Poly SLO,” she says. “I tried out my first one and spent a whole summer working on a bridge deck replacement job in Richmond. I had a lot of fun, so the days always flew by. That experience sealed the deal for me—suddenly, I knew exactly the kind of job I was looking for.”

Transitioning from the project management to field track proved to be more challenging than Catherine realized, however. Immediately following her graduation from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, she was recruited by a general contractor and quickly placed on the project management track. Before she knew it, she was back to pushing paper in a company office instead of bringing projects to life out in the field.

“I was pigeonholed into an assistant project manager (APM) role under the assumption that I’d be a project manager (PM) one day,” she says. “At the time, becoming a superintendent never even crossed my mind as a realistic career option; most of the superintendents in that industry were guys I couldn’t relate to and had years of experience in the trades. But I missed being in the field and decided that at the very least, I wanted to be a field engineer for the first few years of my career so I could get that knowledge and experience under my belt. I knew I wasn’t happy—and never would be happy—continuing the track I was on at the time.”

After a year and a half with the company, Catherine received the call from Webcor that would dramatically transform the course of her career. Knowing she was eager to transition to the field side of construction, Matt Miller—who had been friends with Catherine since their Cal Poly SLO days and was a Webcor project engineer (PE) at the time—had referred Catherine to WCG, which quickly led to an interview.

“My immediate question at the interview was ‘Can you guys put me in the field?’” Catherine says. “Of course, they said yes. That was pretty much all I wanted to hear, so I came over to Webcor. I didn’t really know what I was in for.”

Getting Started in Webcor Concrete

Upon joining Webcor, Catherine was assigned to Harvey Milk Terminal 1 Boarding Area B (BAB) at San Francisco International Airport (SFO)—not exactly a simple, small, or low-profile first assignment. It was an exceptionally ambitious and demanding project that mercilessly thew Catherine challenge after challenge to tackle with her team, fully and rapidly immersing her in the world she’d longed to be a permanent part of for years.

She loved every second of it. “As soon as I started, things felt right,” she says. “Even though I was new, Webcor put so much faith in me as the only PE. We crushed it out there. I loved how Webcor Concrete did things. The field guys’ drive to get the job done was contagious. It was completely different from the world I’d left, where work was delivered at a slow pace and people dragged their feet while looking for opportunities for delays.

“I saw how hard the guys worked, which inspired me to work even harder for them. We had lots of exhausting days out there, but I still loved it. I remember our last slab-on grade pour—I was out there at 4 a.m., and we finished around 11 p.m. I laid down on the slab and just put my fists up in the air. The long days were tough, but I felt so fulfilled.”

Topping off party for SFO Harvey Milk Terminal 1 BAB (April 2018)

Despite her clear affinity and growing passion for field work, it wasn’t until Matt directly asked her if she wanted to become a superintendent that she genuinely considered it as a career option within her reach. At that point, she’d been with WCG for nearly a year.

“I was so busy being a project engineer and loving it that I hadn’t thought about becoming a superintendent one day,” she says. “But him asking made me think about it. I asked him if he thought I could do it—I truly wasn’t sure I could. But he laughed and essentially responded, ‘Yes, why not?” That moment ultimately solidified my decision.

“It’s weird to think about how much that conversation follows me now. I might have eventually made the decision to seriously pursue the superintendent path at some point even if we hadn’t had that talk, but it definitely made a huge impact on me and where I am today.”

2150 Kittredge team in Berkeley (August 2022)

A WCG Leader in the Making

Construction has long been a man’s world—the gender-based statistics of those working in construction, especially those on the front lines of a job site, are there to prove it. (Taking a single glance at almost any construction site will produce a similar effect.) When Catherine decided she was ready to commit to the superintendent route, she knew that as a young woman, the journey would come with its fair share of challenges. On top of that, without a relative or other connection to the hands-on labor side of the industry, her knowledge of tools and formwork was limited.

“I had very little point of reference for many of the highly technical items concrete superintendents deal with every day,” Catherine says. “It was all new to me, and it’s extremely intimidating to learn about those types of things when you don’t know anything. I second-guessed myself often—would I ever learn enough to be the one in charge? How could I ever lead a bunch of carpenters when I don’t have decades of carpentry experience?”

Despite sometimes feeling plagued with self-doubt, however, Catherine refused to let it deter her from climbing her way to the top. She spent her first few years as a WCG project engineer and senior project engineer completely immersed in the craft—observing, researching, constantly asking questions, and building valuable friendships with the guys she worked with as she absorbed every facet of the concrete world she could. When she confidently took on the role of assistant superintendent in 2021, she knew her relentless determination and tireless work ethic had paid off—and would continue to do so.

“Cat is extremely organized and passionate about construction,” says Project Director Matt Faith. “I always appreciate her approaching issues head-on and playing a key role in strategizing solutions. Her attention to detail is also phenomenal—she understands the documents and really dives into the details to fully understand what we’re building.

“To describe Cat as ‘bold’ would be an understatement—she faces challenges head-on, especially now as she leads one of Webcor Timber’s first projects, 828 Brannan. Cat loves being in the field with the crews and really gets along well with her fellow craftsmen.”

It’s been more than six years since the fateful phone call from WCG that landed Catherine in the middle of one of Webcor’s most decorated projects—her first taste of the challenging but rewarding journey in store for her. Despite her exponential growth over the last few years, she’s nowhere near satisfied with her level of expertise and knows that her insatiable thirst for knowledge will continue to be one of her greatest assets.

“Since my promotion to superintendent, my day-to-day has continued to be defined by massive learning experiences again and again,” she says. “Every day, I feel more confident in my role at the company and look forward to what’s next. I still doubt my capabilities here and there, but now that I have so many friends and peers in this division, I know I am not the only one—everyone feels that way sometimes.”

Catherine’s Shout-Outs to Her Webcor Supporters

  • Project Manager Derek Wong : “Derek was my first superintendent. He taught me that you don’t need to ‘look’ like a typical superintendent to be an absolutely stellar one, and he was patient with me and answered a million questions when I was a new PE with no one else to turn to.”
  • Construction Manager, Concrete Owen Brizgys: “Owen managed my first three projects. He saw something in me and set his expectations so sky-high that I had no choice but to work my butt off. Once, he begrudgingly complimented me by calling me a workhorse—I will never forget it.”
  • Superintendent, Concrete Colin MacInnes: “Colin took me in as a senior PE and supported me acting like an assistant superintendent to gain experience in the field, before I ever had the title. When he gave me that support, I was able to learn so much.”
  • Director Eric Peterson: “Eric trusted me to learn 3D scanning/processing before he taught others; I gained a lot of useful experience and knowledge from that.”
  • [Former Webcorian] Scott Wright, Sr. Superintendent Sergio Valencia, and Superintendent, Concrete Ruben Longoria: “These guys became my family when we worked together at the Oceanwide basement project. Scott took me under his wing with his 20+ years of carpentry experience and taught me so much about formwork. He helped me through detailing complex radius wall formwork and trusted me to get it right. Sergio taught me how to keep a jobsite and crews productive, happy, and loyal, and how to make game-time decisions. Ruben (still) works with me on my Spanish and teaches me the ins and outs of the field. They helped me through personal tragedy when I was there, and we all went through the beginning of COVID-19 together at that project.”
  • Superintendent, Concrete Dan Rinaldi, Project Director, Concrete Matt Faith, and Construction Manager Ivan Ramos: “My 2150 Kittredge team members—they all helped me grow even more to ensure I was prepared for my next promotion as superintendent.”
  • Superintendent Patrick Haley: “Pat, my current supervisor and mentor, has trusted me to run a big  project at BDFP and expressed complete confidence in me to get the job done right.”
  • “My friends and beer-drinking buddies who make work fun and keep things light despite our difficult jobs and long days.”

Ruben Longoria, Scott Wright, Catherine, and Sergio Valencia (the Oceanwide basement crew) at Scott's goodbye party before he moved to Idaho.