Government Contracting: It Can Pay to be Woman-Owned
Susanne’s first job out of high school was an administrative clerk at the U. S. Department of Energy National Accelerator Laboratory site office, “…readying the site for the design and site team to begin the process of constructing a 25-mile diameter ring for what would become the world’s largest proton accelerator. Acquisition, development, design, permitting, inspections, and all aspects of constructing this extraordinary facility, along with the unique aspects of art and restoration that were a part of the project, set the stage for what was to become my future career, then business,” quipped Susanne. Armed with a Master of Management from Northwestern University, she continued to work and rose up the construction project management ladder in the private and public sectors. She helped make her organizations and colleagues more effective, efficient and profitable through innovative institutional research programs to bolster expertise on public sector projects, as well as a project incentive program that led to double-digit annual growth gains for her employer. She skillfully guided the Illinois Corridor Transportation Management Association members through the web of Clean Air Act requirements to avoid non-compliance fines and help redevelop blighted areas in Chicago.
After years of proving herself to be equal to the tasks, Susanne took the initiative to start her own enterprise in 1991, and now manages a $150M annual construction management portfolio. She pursued and won status as an SBA 8(a) firm, a Women Business Enterprise (WBE) and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE), all business development tools to help small disadvantaged businesses compete in the federal and state contracting marketplace.
When asked about her success, Susanne said that often being the only woman in the meeting can be daunting. “But if you are willing, as my mentor, Lt. Col. Charles Dierker (USACE, Ret) said, to be ‘an individual who leans forward in the foxhole’, armed not only with the knowledge on how to do your job, but the confidence in yourself and your abilities, you can win them over and win those contracts. Then you have to deliver what you promised on time and on budget. That’s how you succeed.” Not too bad for a girl who started out as clerk!