Cori Miller, a St. James, Mo., native, took her first construction management course at Missouri State University on a whim.
In the hands-on class, “we were framing up walls, building masonry walls and learning all aspects of the construction industry. It was very interesting and different,” she said.
With that, Miller knew she’d found her calling.
Upon graduation in 2012, Miller went to work for Crossland Construction, and within three years she became the youngest project manager in her division, managing various projects valued at over $20 million for a Fortune 500 company. In the past two years, she managed 50 projects and currently is in the pre-construction phase as on-site manager of a $70 million multifamily development project.
“There are a lot of challenges in our industry, and my job is being a problem solver. So when I’m able to solve problems and the outcome is positive, that motivates me,” she said.
Miller finds there are advantages to being young and female in a male-dominated industry, and her experience has been positive. Her presence on the job site sparks interest, which leads to questions about why she is there.
“On a job site, there are tradesmen and foremen, and I don’t have all the answers they would. So I walk the job with them and ask questions,” she said. “I try to suck that knowledge out of them so that they have trust in me. Then I’m not just a kid telling them what to do.”
Having found her calling, Miller wants other young women to consider the construction industry.
“I’m a huge advocate for women in construction, so I try to attend every high school recruiting event,” she said. “I want to feel like, at some point, I’m not a minority in this industry. I want there to be more women that feel empowered to do this type of work.”
That calling continues through her work on the young professionals board of the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), and in helping initiate a local chapter of the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) to give local women in construction a support and networking system.
A doting aunt, Miller visits family in Missouri once a month. She also enjoys hiking, camping with her boyfriend and her two dogs.