An Interview with Marielle Price

Kristian Porter

December 07, 2017

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Marielle Price is the director of construction and customer success for Fieldwire, a construction management app designed to increase productivity for supervisors, superintendents, and engineers in the field. With two engineering degrees and a career at the intersection of two male-dominated fields, she is paving the way for women to enter the construction and technology fields.

Kristian Porter (KP): Tell me about Fieldwire. What problem is the app trying to solve and how does it work?

Marielle Price (MP): Construction is a ten trillion dollar industry that has struggled with efficiency. Productivity has declined since the 60s, whereas in all other non-farming industries, productivity has more than doubled (based on a study from Stanford University). Large projects are complex, with dozens of different companies coming together to build a unique structure.

Things are constantly changing, so it's critical for new information to get out to everyone on the team. In the past, information has been shared via printed paper, emails, phone calls, and text messages. Sharing results in that format causes information to be misplaced, forgotten, or never read.

Fieldwire is a project management app and construction scheduling software to help people know what work they need to do. It solves the coordination problem by being a single source of truth for everyone on the project team. The latest updates are instantly available on Fieldwire, and everyone can track the progress of any issues on the job site.

Another problem Fieldwire addresses is that technology has traditionally not been built with the field in mind; therefore, information from the supervisors and people doing the work is often not directly reported. We focus on making Fieldwire user-friendly so anyone can pick it up and input information within a few minutes. This ease increases transparency and streamlines workflows for the entire construction project team.

KP: What does your role as director of construction consist of?

MP: Our construction group consists of engineers that have worked in the AEC (Architecture, Engineering, and Contractor) industry. We work with our customers on on-boarding, training, consulting, and support. In tech terms, we do customer success, support, account management, and sales engineering to ensure that our customers get the most out of Fieldwire. I love working with clients that are building amazing things—everything from high-rises to bridges.

KP: Having two engineering degrees is impressive. What made you decide to pursue engineering, and what led you to the tech and construction fields?

MP: The built environment has always interested me. In high school, I became passionate about lessening the resource impact that our buildings have on the earth (buildings account for approximately 40% of carbon emissions in the United States). I studied civil and environmental engineering in college because I wanted to understand how things are built.

The construction management master's program at Stanford had a focus in sustainable buildings, so I chose that track. I learned about ways to reduce environmental impact due to material choices in buildings, but I also learned how there are many inefficiencies in the industry that indirectly affect the Earth in a larger capacity.

I joined a general commercial contractor to work in their sustainable buildings group and built some projects (four buildings in total: across higher education, K–12 education, and public sectors). While working in the industry, I saw even more of those inefficiencies and implemented technology to streamline processes on my projects.

I realized I could have a larger impact by switching to the technology side, so I joined Fieldwire when they were growing after their series A funding round. In my role at Fieldwire, I'm able to help thousands of projects become more efficient and help people get home earlier to spend time with their families.

KP: What has been your experience working in a traditionally male-dominated space? Have you faced obstacles in your career because of your gender?

MP: Both construction and tech are male-dominated industries, and I'm accustomed to being outnumbered in terms of gender. That being said, I've seen gender parity increasing significantly in both industries over the past five years. I have experienced sexism on construction job sites and have had to prove myself more than my male counterparts, but I've never felt limited in my career or educational paths.

Once I showed the value I could add to the team, I was given more responsibilities. I've also had great male and female mentors that have supported me in my career growth.

KP: What is your advice to women who may be thinking of pursuing a career in a traditionally male-dominated field?

MP: Go for it! We need more diverse backgrounds in both industries. Both construction and tech are fast-paced, exciting, and constantly changing. My advice is not to be afraid to jump in and take on responsibilities inside or outside your defined role. If you're ready to get your hands dirty, you'll go far.

Kristian Porter is a copywriter and online marketing assistant at Ecreativeworks. Read more about her on LinkedIn.

Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.

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