Elizabeth Seko had always been interested in her father’s work with contractors so it made sense that she would chose a post secondary program in construction management and marketing. Today she is sales and business development manager with Anthony Roofing, a division of Tecta America.
After graduation, Seko tried a variety of industries including transportation and work in waterways, and then she found her way to industrial and commercial roofing. “I started with a local Iowa based contractor in a business development role, learning more about the industry as I moved along.”
She says early in her career she appreciated she had entered a largely male field but, not one to be deterred, didn’t focus on that. “My parents were great supporters and my dad always said you are only as good as the effort you put forth so I just focused on putting forward my best effort. People will always eventually look past what they see to what you can do.”
A relocation to Chicagoland three years ago, along with a desire to secure a role that offered options for growth, saw her working for a company that allowed for this growth and advancement in her career. Eight months ago, she was hired by Tecta.
“Tecta made sense as the next step for me. This is a great company, and I have a great boss who is willing to mentor me and provide the resources I need to continue to grow in my career.”
That support from her employer has been valuable as well, as Seko juggles her role as mother to 17-month-old twins and the challenges of a devoted and loving husband whose career requires him to travel for work. “It can require a bit of flexibility but at the end of the day, my boss is confident that I will do what I need to in order to get the job done.”
Though some might find the challenge of these multiple roles daunting, she says combining what is best for her family, her career and herself may be chaotic but is also fulfilling.
Currently, Seko’s role involves managing the company’s marketing, assisting the sales team, handling current customers and helping grow the business. “One day I could be in the office and the next I’m on a roof, doing a survey to provide a quote.”
Her experience has spanned a variety of companies, including union and non-union. While she says both have advantages, her customers get more benefit from union companies, such as her current local operation, Anthony Roofing under Tecta America. “The quality and ethics of a union shop is impressive. The opportunities for people on crews to get training and education, and to advance their skills, in the end, is a great value to my customers.”
Seko has been working on being more involved with the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA), the Chicago Roofing Contractors Association (CRCA), the Illinois Women in Real Estate, and BOMA (Building Owners and Managers Association). She says it is important to have opportunities to network with peers, and with other women in the industry.
She says as a woman in a man’s industry she finds particular satisfaction when a customer asks to work with her and she is encouraged to see the success of other women. “When I have opportunities to speak with young girls about careers in the industry, I tell them that they are capable. I tell them to find something they love, get an education and not to let gender dissuade them from anything.”
Though women in her industry are still few and far between. She says this can actually be an advantage and can open doors for women who have knowledge, interest and skill.
Though Seko says she too had doubts about her path during her schooling, she was able to push through that and found a career that is exciting, dynamic and full of potential.