This article is one in a series of conversations with women leaders in the construction industry. Click here for last month's conversation.
Allison Otto's recent appointment to president and CEO of Otto Construction makes it one of the largest woman-owned and -operated commercial general contractors in Northern and Central California.
Otto, the third generation in her family to lead the Sacramento-based company, graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in business administration and earned a construction management certificate from UC Davis.
Otto Construction is involved in a range of project types including senior living complexes, historical renovations, educational facilities, healthcare buildings and parking structures. Some of the jobs that Otto, 45, has led recently include multimillion-dollar projects for clients such as California State University Sacramento, San Juan Unified School District and California State University Monterey Bay.
Here, Otto (shown in top photo, center) talks with Construction Dive about her new role as president and her advice to young women considering a career in construction.
CONSTRUCTION DIVE: How long have you worked in construction?
ALLISON OTTO: Officially, I've worked for Otto Construction for 21 years, but as my dad was the second-generation member of our family to run the company, I have spent just about all of my life involved in construction.
What do you do in your current job?
As president, I oversee the strategic direction of Otto Construction. I also play an active role on Otto Construction's management team, focusing on setting and achieving financial goals, implementing strategic planning objectives and positioning the company well within the communities where Otto operates.
One of my most important responsibilities is client outreach and negotiations. I identify and acquire new clients, maintain relationships with current and past clients and oversee projects from an executive standpoint. I enjoy this role, where I get to maintain and expand relationships with clients, architects, consultants and other business and community organizations.
What led you to choose construction for your career?
This company has been part of our family's DNA since 1947 and I've been around it all of my life. I decided at an early age that I wanted to continue the legacy of our family business into the third generation.
Next year, Otto Construction will mark its 75th anniversary. My vision for the future is to foster collaborative relationships with both internal and external contacts while expanding opportunities for growth. We will pursue innovation and new technological advances to assure another 75 years of prosperity and influence in the communities we serve, and will continue to provide great service and quality construction to all of our project partners.
What are a few of the projects you've most enjoyed working on and why?
Every project is enjoyable and they all come with their own set of challenges and accomplishments. From tenant improvements at local nonprofits like Society for the Blind to important community amenities like the new Museum of Science and Curiosity to our K-12 and higher education projects, they all bring a sense of pride knowing these facilities will be enjoyed by many for years to come.
What advice would you give to young women considering construction as a career?
Stop considering and just dive in! It is such a great industry. Every day is different, and women bring a value and perspective to construction that is needed and wanted. Surround yourself with great role models and reach out to mentors; there are so many people who are willing to help.