It’s not often that a new construction hire has a resume that includes her fighting weight, but then Mandy Bujold, the new manager of industry and community partnerships for the Grand Valley Construction Association, is no ordinary hire.
Bujold, who started with the GVCA on Jan. 1, is an 11-time Canadian boxing champion who won gold medals in the women’s flyweight division (112 pounds) at the 2011 and 2015 Pan American Games and competed for Canada twice in the Olympic Games.
Her duties with the GVCA include working with industry partners, post-secondary institutions and others on community development, advancing the role of women and other underrepresented groups in construction, and promoting health, safety and fitness.
GVCA member Jason Ball, president of Ball Construction, said Bujold has life experience that fits the southwestern Ontario association’s mandate well.
“Mandy’s voice is necessary as we continue to strive for excellence, enhance our efforts on our employees being fit for work and the importance of a continued focus on health and safety,” he said in a statement. “Her presence in construction will create pathways for more careers for women and open the dialogue that will break down the real or perceived barriers to entry.”
Being on a jobsite like walking into a boxing gym
Commented Bujold, “There are a lot of similarities between boxing and construction. As I hear these different stories, especially when we’re talking about women and construction, I spent my whole career in a male-dominated field so I get what that feels like.
“I don’t want to be an expert at what they do. It’s more, how can I come in with a different lens, provide a different way of seeing things and maybe hearing things from a different view? I think that’s added value.”
Mandy Bujold comes from a construction family — her father was a labourer who moved the family for work a couple of times, including to New Brunswick to work on the Confederation Bridge, two brothers are steelworkers and an uncle is a bricklayer.
“I definitely understand the culture and I’ve heard my dad talking about this throughout the years.
“He was always proud of the projects that he worked on. He talks about his name being on the Confederation Bridge. I think those pieces are really important, and so I definitely have that exposure.”
Already Bujold has attended sessions where she sees MPs and builders looking for solutions to diverse problems and who are willing to try something new.
She says she can contribute to conversations on recruitment from the point of view of being an outsider and preparing to prove herself.
“Being on a jobsite, it’s probably very similar to walking in a boxing gym,” she said. “You walk into a boxing gym, especially when I first started, you look around, you’re the only female there, everybody’s watching you. My brother didn’t want me to start boxing because he was afraid someone was going to hit on me. So I feel like it’s probably a lot of the same things that they deal with.
“You know, ‘I know I’m going to have to prove myself.’ Once you do that, the reward is going to be big, right? You’re going to be able to make a great salary and all of those other pieces that come along with the job.”
‘You’ve got to be able to deliver’
Her celebrity, especially in the Kitchener-Waterloo region, opens doors, she said, but after that, “when you get in the door, you’ve got to be able to deliver as well.”
She studied business and fine arts in post-secondary and has worked at firms such as Communitech and Millions, where her communications skills have helped clients make important connections.
Mandy Bujold will be involved in launching a pilot program called Fit to Build where participants will be invited to learn about the basics of health and physical fitness, preparing them to achieve excellence on the job. And her work for the GVCA will also build upon existing efforts, such as the successful Jill of All Trades program.
“Many of the roles that I’ve had over the years have been development related, and even as I was preparing for the Olympics, it was about, how can you get from point A to point B. You’re always building the plan, making a plan. At Communitech I did a lot of stuff around sponsorship, fundraising, same thing in my own career.”
Follow the author on Twitter @DonWall_DCN.