Vice president of the Wisconsin Group
Cotter Consulting Inc.
735 N. Water St., Suite 1101, Milwaukee
Industry: Construction management
Nahid Afsari is vice president of the Wisconsin Group at Cotter Consulting Inc., a Chicago-based firm that provides program management, project management and construction management services. While female leaders possess certain unique strengths, all leaders should believe they have something to learn from their employees, she says.
“Before working at Cotter Consulting, a construction management firm that has more women in leadership positions than men, I never really thought twice about being a female in a male-dominated industry. I was the only girl in a family of four children. I was a tomboy growing up, and I played on an all-boys soccer team until I was 15 years old.
“However, after being surrounded by confident, intelligent leaders, I began to notice female leaders bring a different spin to leadership that should be embraced.
“In a male-dominated industry, female leaders bring an emotional awareness, the humility to ask for help and a collaborative style where the whole team is sharing in success. At Cotter, we have a very collaborative approach to leadership known as LEAD – listen, engage, advise, deliver. Our leaders believe they have something to learn from everyone, and everyone has something to contribute. We try to find common ground for everyone on our team to work toward the same goal, together.
“While gaining consensus within your team, you can’t be afraid to take risks or worry that being direct may come off as bossy or pushy. All leaders, especially female leaders, must be relentless, know what they stand for and take advantage of opportunities. And, if opportunities don’t present themselves, then create your own opportunities. Girl power!”