Lucia Diaz used to hang around her dad’s construction firm, an experience she says taught her well about contractors, construction drawings, plans and specs, and big projects.
She’s put that background to good use as Facilities Program Supervisor for the Inland Empire Utilities Agency. She’s been working for IEUA for 13 years, and now supervises a staff of seven.
She admits that when she started it was a bit intimidating. “There are not a lot of females in construction,” she says. “At first it was difficult to get people to listen to my ideas. But I’ve gained respect by showing what I can do. I pride myself at working hard on what I need to do. I meet everybody with a smile. I give help to whoever needs it. We have a great team here, and we support each other.”
“Women can bring a different mindset to the job,” she says. “I think women tend to lead by mentorship”.
Her nominators for the Emerging Leaders award recognized that. They praised her personal touch that includes sending cards and recognizing employees for work anniversaries and successful projects. “She has an open door policy,” they said. “She never overreacts. She’s great at customer service and motivating her staff.”
Her success on the job stems from her belief in taking on new challenges. “You shouldn’t be afraid to say ‘yes’ to something you haven’t done before,” she says. “Even if it’s not part of your job description, it’s OK to go ahead and try it. You’ll gain a new experience.”
She’s done that several times. In one case, she worked with Metropolitan Water District on a rebate application to obtain funding to replace all of the turf on the treatment plant property with native plantings during the recent drought. In another, she was heavily involved in the creation of a new 22-acre wetland park in the district. “I’m very proud of that,” she says.
“I’m all about expanding my knowledge and learning from other people.”
That certainly includes her dad, who still runs the construction company she started at and taught her a lot of the skills she uses today.