During Women in Construction Week, we’re highlighting some of the amazing women who are at the heart of Eastman Cooke’s success.
Meet Imani Milima.
Since joining Eastman Cooke as an Assistant Project Manager, Imani Milima has brought tremendous insights to the team. With two decades of experience in general business management and project management (including two years working as an owner representative), Imani’s meticulous attention to detail always ensures that construction projects stay on target. When she’s not coordinating day-to-day activities for a new build project or a large-scale renovation of a medical facility, you will probably find her dedicating her time to support a number of important causes. Rehabilitating homes, parklands and businesses in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy are among the many volunteer projects she has contributed to. Imani holds a B.A. in Economics from Rutgers University and an MBA from the University of Pretoria in South Africa.
What are the keys to ensuring that construction projects always stay on target?
Good project management is driven by delivery that is on time, on budget, and on scope. But none of this can be achieved without good relationships. Construction is a tough business but your reputation rests on how well you deliver. Manage the details. Manage the relationships to get through the tough decisions. And be sure to manage the entire construction team to the best standards, while demonstrating respect and great communication.
How does your previous experience as an owner representative help you in your current role as Assistant Project Manager?
My owner rep experience was fantastic. It took me back to something I loved. Construction and design were in my blood, but I did not consider these as a career option for women. In the role of owner rep, I surrounded myself with good people, all the relevant expertise, and I asked a lot of questions. I knew what the owner wanted and tested every decision to that vision. Those skills I bring to my current role. You must have clarity on the end product; not just the design, but the intent. Then I manage every detail according to that vision.
What recent project are you most proud of? What made the project so successful?
While I love renovation, it is super exciting to do a new build. From nothing, comes something. I am really proud of our team at Central Assisted Living. The project has special challenges because we stepped in after it had been started. We are still adjusting timelines and methods to accommodate what was previously done, but we have worked well with the design team to find solutions.
With nearly a decade of working in construction, how have you seen the role of women change and grow in the industry?
I have worked in construction for seven years, but given my many years of experience before construction, I pay attention to the entire life cycle – awareness, training and education, recruitment, professional development and ownership. I am passionate to present construction as a career choice to young women. Many do not know of the various roles or opportunities in construction. They just think of it as a dirty job. But as one woman executive once said, “It’s just dusty!” As I went for training, half the class were women. That was awesome. Companies are hiring women, but we are now looking for real development. It requires a new approach and women must advocate for themselves.
What are some activities that you enjoy when you’re not working?
Pre-COVID, I loved to skydive. It is such an adrenalin rush. That is balanced with my interest to share with teens the many opportunities in construction.
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