We had the privilege of talking with Jennifer Bognet, Executive Vice President of Bognet Construction, to kick off our Partner Spotlight Series. In honor of Women's History Month, we discussed her perspective on the industry, the women who inspire her, and what advice she'd give to young women today.
What challenges have you observed in the industry and how have you worked to overcome them?
One of the most frequent challenges has been how tight the schedules have become. It seems with each passing year the schedules get tighter, and we are asked to deliver projects in less and less time. Add the supply chain issues over the past year or two, and the challenge is magnified. The human impact on our team members (project managers and superintendents) who are delivering the projects is real and it requires that we are careful not to create burnout with too many long hours and weekends working to achieve a fast schedule. We utilize our Relentlessly Proactive™ approach and the latest technology which enable us to uncover and address the unknown surprises that can delay a project. We can add so much value and alleviate schedule issues when we are brought into the pre-construction process. Engaging the GC earlier greatly increases the project's success and minimizes both delays and stress.
What is your outlook for the industry for 2022 and beyond?
I am always an optimistic person! Although I certainly enjoy working from home occasionally, I believe that in the coming months, people will want to come back to the office. It will be good for them both personally and professionally to do so.
There are lingering challenges for construction related to supply chain and labor shortages, but I see great opportunities for growth and advancement as construction projects rebound. When the tenant work slowed, we pivoted to building senior living, mixed-use, and childcare projects, and expanded our team to pursue those projects. I look forward to seeing how the industry continues to evolve such as how landlords will attract tenants, how office design may change, and how our urban areas transform as people come back to the office.
Who’s someone you’ve admired in your career and how have they inspired you?
There are so many women I have admired in my career such as Barbara Schafer McDuffie, who was such a great mentor and friend and who opened doors for me to get involved and lead in various CRE organizations. Wendy Feldman Block, whom I admire so much for the trail she blazed for women in brokerage and for her thought leadership related to the market and wellness in the workplace.
There are so many more to name - those from CREW DC who work tirelessly to advance women in commercial real estate, the entire Lombardi Women committee who represent outstanding, talented women from every facet of the industry. These women have inspired me to lead, mentor others, build our business, and improve our community.
What is one piece of advice you would give to women looking to get into the industry?
It requires more than subject matter expertise to be promoted to the executive level/C-suite. Developing executive management skills- such as strategic thinking, decision making, emotional intelligence, and employee development - is critical.
For women I have mentored, I ask them - Are you working to build customer relationships or finding innovative ways to move your organization forward? What professional books are you reading that grow your executive functioning skills? What professional organizations are you involved with to expand your industry knowledge and increase your leadership skills? How are your financial management skills? Are you setting goals for yourself each year to develop these critical skills? This can feel overwhelming for women as they feel the pull of both building a career and raising a family. Building executive management skills does not require you to become a workaholic, but rewards always come by going the extra mile.
The analogy I like to use is that many can make it to the base camp of Mount Everest, but only a few get to the summit. Getting to the summit is not only further, it’s harder. It’s more time, harder problems, more responsibility. My advice is to know what you want, set goals, and be willing to do what it takes to get there.
"Bognet Construction was one of our very first partners when J2H started back in 2015. We're fortunate to have a long-standing relationship and friendship with the Bognet team and we thank Jennifer for sharing her insights with us today." - John Sadlik, Principal