Women in Construction Spotlight: Monica Ashley

After nearly 20 years of career advancement within the AEC industry, Monica Ashley is thrilled to say her perspective on being a female leader in construction has shifted.

March 8, 2023

Employee Spotlight

Sunday, March 5 kicked off the first day of 2023's Women in Construction Week--a week dedicated to celebrating women as indispensable members of the construction industry. Monday through Friday, we’ll be highlighting the experiences, challenges, and accomplishments of five outstanding women from various Webcor teams.

After nearly two decades of steady career advancement within the commercial construction industry, Sr. Project Director Monica Ashley is thrilled to say her perspective on being a female leader in construction has dramatically shifted. Following years of feeling intimidated and weary of being a woman in construction, she says, she’s reached a point where she can confidently say she feels empowered and supported “to blaze my own path in this industry.”

“At the beginning of my career, I was determined to prove the nay-sayers wrong about being a female field supervisor,” Monica says. “Today, I no longer feel I have something to prove—instead, I know I have much to offer.”

With a hefty resume that boasts a BS in Construction Management from CSU Chico, LEED AP and Safety Trained Supervisor (STS) accreditations, and over 17 years of demonstrated career growth at Hensel Phelps (one of the country’s largest general contractors), Monica knows she has plenty of expertise and experience to offer any construction team. Prior to joining Webcor, Monica was a project manager at Hensel Phelps, where she spent the majority of her career as a project engineer and superintendent before transitioning to the project management side. In October of last year, she made the move to Webcor as a senior project director and now leads the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center project, which broke ground in late February.

“I am relatively new to the Webcor family, but even so, I feel blessed to be surrounded by such a great group of talented people,” she says. “At each turn, I have been introduced to amazing individuals who give so much to our teams. The overall sense of pride and fulfillment that I see from our team members just reinforces that we are doing something right.

“It’s interesting to me that the construction industry has a reputation for being crass and abrasive. Over the course of my career, I have only come across a handful of folks who truly represent those traits. In general, I think this industry is full of kind-hearted, salt-of-the-earth people who are willing to bend over backwards to help when needed.”

As a project leader, Monica’s passionate about fostering a work environment that compels Webcorians to support and trust one another, just as she says she’s experienced with teammates on past projects.

“I love championing team evolution,” she says. “At the start of a project, everyone is usually timid and reserved. Throughout the life of a project, however, each team eventually becomes a family. It’s extremely rewarding to build these relationships—which often continue far beyond project completion— and watch my teammates achieve their goals. I take great pride in my leadership abilities and love when I can celebrate the successes of others.”

Although Monica fully embraces her role as team leader of one of Webcor’s largest active projects, it’s far from the only one she plays. Working mother, wife, daughter, friend, community leader (she’s currently the president of Women in Construction Operations’, aka WiOPS, Northern California chapter), and volunteer are other vital parts of her identity, each of which comes with its own unique set of challenges, commitments, and responsibilities. In the end, she says, accepting that there’s a limit to what she can realistically offer is key to finding peace.

“Accepting that I have to say ‘no’ sometimes is difficult, but necessary,” she says. “It’s challenging to keep up with all the chaos and juggle the many roles I currently hold—managing everything is still a struggle at times. The truth is, no one person can do it all.”

It’s a philosophy that extends to the workplace as well, she says. “The single most valuable lesson I’ve learned in my career thus far is that we can’t do this job alone. Each of us needs to bring our own expertise to the table and be prepared to support one another when needed to ensure project success. Because of that, treating everyone with the level of respect and kindness that they deserve is paramount.”