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How being a female Owner’s Project Manager has evolved over time and aspirations for the future of the industry

March 2024

As Women in Construction Week draws to a close, we spotlight Lisa Bagshaw, Natasha Marcuard, and Danica Woo, three professionals shaping the construction industry.

Their stories highlight their goals and achievements and signify the shift towards inclusivity and opportunity for women in owner’s project management (OPM) and the construction industry.

As we celebrate their accomplishments, we recognize their role in reshaping the industry’s landscape and paving the way for future generations of female leaders.

Meet Lisa Bagshaw. 

Lisa is a strategic leader with over 20 years of experience in the commercial real estate and construction industry. She worked as an owner’s project manager (OPM) for the past ten years, focusing on tenant interiors and executing new construction, renovation, and relocation projects. Before that, she played an advisory role, providing consultation on profitability improvement, organizational structure, and business expansion, including acquisitions and site development.

Lisa’s diverse experience spans the biomedical, education, energy, technology, and food services sectors. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Villanova University.

Lisa is currently involved in the expansion of Werfen’s Bedford campus, a strategic initiative for its business development. With the addition of Building 4, Werfen will gain 118,000 SF of lab office space and 190 much-needed parking spaces. The new building will be used for research and development activities related to a new product line. With this building and the addition of a third product line, Werfen will continue to grow its team of talented employees and expand its product offerings. Werfen anticipates this project will result in the addition of over 300 high-quality professional jobs, such as scientists and engineers.

In her spare time, Lisa dedicates much of her time to community engagement, specifically improving education and civic engagement. 

How has Lisa seen the industry evolve with women in the field since she began working in the real estate/construction industry?  

The industry has significantly evolved since I began my career. I was one of only four females among 55 graduates in my civil engineering class. On my first project post-graduation, I was the only woman on the job site within the project team. 

During my first walk-through, the superintendent openly referred to women as ‘chicks’ and informed me they did not belong on the job site. I firmly corrected him and made him aware his job was at risk, and it never happened again. We developed a good working relationship and worked on subsequent jobs together. 

On my current project, we have a female foreman and numerous female laborers. There is still the one-off periodic old-timer who thinks having a female PM on-site is unusual but provides the utmost respect compared to when I started. This change in mindset underscores the increasing acceptance of women in our field.

Meet Natasha Marcuard. 

Natasha is a Vice President | Shareholder with over 16 years of experience in the industry. As an owner’s project manager (OPM), she has been involved with various projects, including higher education dormitories, office interior fit-outs, master planning support, and pharmaceutical lab fit-outs in the Greater Boston and Providence areas, scaling up to $85 million.

She earned a Bachelor of Architecture from North Carolina State University and is a registered architect in Massachusetts.

Currently entrenched in research and development projects for pharmaceutical clients, Natasha thrives on the challenges and complexities of lab renovations in occupied spaces. Working with all partners, she enjoys collaborating with each team member’s perspectives and strengths to deliver the best outcome for her clients. Each project brings a unique set of parameters, and developing a cohesive project team will be best positioned to deliver a successful project, which ultimately supports the R&D pipeline to bring life-changing treatments to fruition.

Natasha’s impact extends beyond her career. She continues to seek leadership roles in the A/E/C industry where she feels she can make meaningful and positive impacts. Currently serving as a co-chair of the DEI committee with the Professional Women in Construction, she has the opportunity to work alongside many leaders in different industry sectors. Additionally, she feels passionate about serving her CRE and local community, where she has been involved in Rebuilding Together Boston, Habitat for Humanity, CANstruction, and organizations supporting the LGBTQ community, to name a few. 

Natasha shares dual citizenship with Switzerland and enjoys warm weather, traveling, kayaking, triathlons, and jigsaw puzzles. She continues to live by “we can do hard things” in all aspects, work and life.

How has Natasha seen the industry evolve with women in the field since she began working in the real estate/construction industry?  

I’ve seen the industry become more open to inclusivity and acknowledging that we’re all human. By doing so, we are creating more space for acceptance and diversity, which in turn strengthens our teams.

We are all people from different walks of life and each struggle with our own challenges. By making space for different types of personalities and creating safe spaces for hard discussions, we develop more meaningful relationships and trust with one another.

Meet Danica Woo. 

Danica has over three years of experience in design and construction management, working as an owner’s project manager (OPM) in the higher education sector.

She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Architecture and Experience Design with a minor in Psychology from Northeastern University.

Danica is currently working on our Dartmouth College client team, helping to support Dartmouth’s 10-year vision of bringing 1,000 new beds to students, faculty, and staff. In this role, Danica and the Dartmouth team are managing a ground-up multi-family residential building, an innovative and new housing format for both New Hampshire Upper Valley residents and Dartmouth College students. This first of several new structures will have approximately 290 beds in a mix of two, three, and four-bedroom apartment-style units. Demolition is set to begin this summer, with construction expected to start in Fall 2024 with a completion date in time for the Fall 2026 academic semester.   

Through her current Dartmouth client, Danica has the opportunity to work day-to-day with a highly talented female executive team whose skill and expertise help to drive this complex project and set an example for women in construction at all levels. Danica finds professional strength in her hands-on design knowledge, her communication skills, and her ability to navigate complex institutional landscapes.

Capitalizing on the opportunities Northstar has provided, Danica has narrowed her professional goals for the next three years to continue to build her construction vocabulary and strategic knowledge of building systems and engineering to advise projects from a more technical lens.  

In her free time, you can find Danica playing co-ed volleyball in a local pick-up league or relaxing with a good book and a hot cup of tea!

What aspirational evolutions does Danica see occurring in the construction industry in the next 3-5 years?

In the next three to five years, I hope to see women in all roles within construction. From my vantage point, there are a few extremely talented and hard-working female leaders, presidents, and award winners, and there are many assistant designers, engineers, and project managers who are just starting in the field. I want to see the many in entry-level positions continue progressing, learning, and leading, becoming a proven staple in the executive leadership tier- rather than the few.