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The 5 Top Takeaways From Linda Alvarado CSI National Conference Keynote Speech

By Peter Kray posted 11-08-2022 04:20 PM


The 2022 CSI National Conference welcomed the architecture, engineering, construction, and owner (AECO) industry to Denver, Colo., October 12– 14 with a wealth of interactive events, top-level speakers, and an introduction to game-changing new technology.

Galvanized by a “Future Ready” theme, the sold-out occasion provided attendees with a firsthand look at the major trends, innovations, and potential pitfalls that in the years to come will have the biggest impact on AECO professionals.

A highlight of the conference was industry trailblazer Linda Alvarado’s candid keynote presentation on how to break traditional barriers for success. President and CEO of Alvarado Construction Inc. and the first Hispanic owner of a Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise (the Colorado Rockies), Alvarado shared her struggles as a pioneer in an almost exclusively male-dominant industry. Her humorous, deeply personal presentation brought the crowd to its feet.

Linda is a recipient of the Horatio Alger Award and has been honored along with US Attorney General, Janet Reno and Maya Angelo as a recipient of the prestigious Sara Lee Corporation Front Warner Award for exemplary achievement and leadership.

1. Lifelong Training: Throughout my life and my career, I’ve been told I don’t look the part, I don’t look like a commercial general contractor. I don’t look the like an owner of a major league baseball team. I’ve been told I don’t look like a director of a corporate Fortune 500 company. I grew up in a Hispanic family in New Mexico with five brothers. But my parents were very non-traditional and unconventional in their thinking because from the time I was very little, I was playing baseball in the mesa in the dirt with my brothers. I think sports was at least an opportunity for me to begin to get into the game, to learn how to get better at the game. And even though my parents enabled me to do this, I didn't know that it was basic training.

2. Risk Taking: I went on an academic scholarship to Pomona College in Claremont, California. And they posted jobs on the bulletin boards, and there was groundskeeping, food service, or the library. I don’t know how to do food service. So I went to the groundskeeping job and the guy said, “What are you doing here, do you not understand guys do groundskeeping?” So I looked at the posting, it didn’t say boys only. And he told me, “Do you not understand you’re going to be working outside in the sun doing heavy lifting and you are not going to dress the way you are and working with all these guys?” And I thought to myself, let me get this right. I don’t have to go to the gym, and I’m going to get a tan. But taking a risk and applying for a job or doing new things or going different ways is sometimes hard to do.

3. Confidence, Capability, and Commitment:
I got this crazy idea that I could start a construction company. I’d seen some submittals, I’d seen invoices and bills, so I started very small and I would submit proposals just using my initials. I still didn’t look the part. And in order to grow the company, I put a tie on. And I knew how to write a business plan. But I got turned down by six banks. And my parents without telling me, borrowed $2,500 on their two-room adobe house at a 23% interest rate. So of course, if I didn't succeed, my parents would be affected. But I was taking the risk and embracing change. And the company grew convincing people that we had a chance in the world of making it. And in convincing people, it’s not just sales and marketing, it’s really building confidence, capability, commitment, and the type of interaction that you have with each other to build trust.

4. The Big League:
One day I got a call from Governor Roy Romer and he’s trying to put together a small group of risk takers to go after a new MLB team. The National League was going to put out an opportunity for various locations to bid for an expansion team and the check that I was being asked to write had a lot of zeroes behind it. People didn’t think we could fill the stadium. We had to do a six-county referendum to pass enough tax to build the stadium and convince counties how this would bring the city together. The National League was doing a tour of all the sites to meet people understand, try to build confidence or commitment or question whether we were just doing it so our name could be in the news or we really were going to be in the game.

5. Women's Work: Let me close by saying I was asked to speak at my son’s kindergarten class and it was like, what do you want do when you grow up? And they invited two parents. So, I take my hard hat, I take my level, blueprints, my iPad, and afterwards his teacher says, ‘Rob, when you grow up, don’t you want be a contractor like your mother? Don’t you want to build high rises, Bronco stadiums, and Taco Bells?’ He looks at her and he says, ‘No, that's women’s work.’ So maybe I’m starting to look the part.