Top Career Tips from Last Year’s 40 Under 40 Winners

Career Tips 40 under 40

What does it take to have a successful career in construction?

While everyone’s professional journey is different, it helps to learn from those with well-established careers, so you can discover the lessons that brought them to the top of their game.

That’s exactly what we’re doing here. We asked last year’s 40 Under 40 winners, a.k.a. Champions of Construction, to share their best career advice, along with the most important lessons they've learned from 2020, and what excites them about the construction industry.

As some of the most passionate and forward-thinking people in construction, the group shares hard-earned learnings that you can put into action in your own career right away.

Have a look at what they have to say below. It’s an inspiring read.

If you know anyone in construction that is an absolute AEC allstar, and belongs on this year’s 40 Under 40: Champions of Construction list, nominate them today! Nominations are open August 17 through September 17.


1. What is the best career advice you’ve ever been given?

In many cases, the best career nuggets are intangible. Instead of a quick tip, the most insightful advice often serves as a north star that guides your career decisions and ensures that you don't stray too far from your values.

Do what you love and what’s best for you

Many of 2020’s Champions of Constructions agree that succeeding in your field starts with knowing what you love and what’s best for you. 

As Ivana Tudja, Senior BIM Manager at Mace Group puts it, “Remember one thing, you're the only person who knows what the right thing for you is.”

In line with this, it’s important to know what you’re passionate about, so you can develop your career around that. 

"Do something that you love,” says Kristy Hogg, Technical BIM Lead at Cundall. “Because if you enjoy it, you're going to be interested in it.”

Learn to collaborate well with others

Teamwork and collaboration are essential to construction success. If you want to go far in your AEC career, it’s important to be open to other people’s ideas and constantly learn from each other.

"A huge part of continual creativity and dedication on-site is understanding that everyone has a voice and input worth hearing; it’s not just the construction manager reigning down orders,” says Geoffrey Bean, Virtual Construction Coordinator at W.M. Jordan Company.

He continues, “When it comes to ideas, there is no such thing as a bad one. It’s about letting suggestions be heard. It’s about letting every single person on every single one of our job sites know that they matter and that we care.”

Carolina Alvarez, President of J&S Building Maintenance, Inc., offers similar advice and says that working closely with the team is a must to succeed at work. "The first thing is recognizing that we’re a team and communicating with each other,” she says. 

“What do we need to do? What ideas do you have? What’s going to make you feel safe to start with? You need to ask those questions. Talk to your staff, see where they’re at, and accommodate their needs if necessary,” adds Carolina. 

2. What are the top lessons you learned from 2020?

The most powerful lessons are the ones that you earn not just by reading, but actually living through them. 2020 was a difficult period, but it was a massive year for career growth, particularly for construction professionals who kept their heads up and persevered. 

"Patience and hope were my biggest takeaways [in 2020],” says Hritik Kothari, Project Engineering Intern at the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). He adds that he’ll proudly take these values further in the years to come. 

Focus on things you can control

If there's one thing the pandemic taught us, it’s that there are many factors outside of our control. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t do anything. 

Lazar Vilimonovic, Electrical Design Engineer at Tesla said it best: "The biggest thing is that you can’t dwell on a lot of the things you can’t control.”

So much can change in a short amount of time, and the number one thing you can do is to continuously show up. “I know I need to keep moving forward, do the things I need to do, and go from there,” adds Lazar.

Always have a plan

The events of last year caught many people off guard, and 2020 taught us the importance of having “a more thorough emergency plan,” remarks Carolina. 

"Your emergency plan shouldn’t just be ‘Oh what if the internet went out.’ That may have worked pre-2020, but if a pandemic or something similar happens again, you need to be prepared. Your business plan needs to expand to other types of emergencies and what to do in case of that, because who knows what will happen again?”

3. What excites you the most about the future of construction?

The future of the construction industry is bright, and now is one of the most exciting times to build a career in AEC. 

Groundbreaking developments in technology

Technologies like AI, machine learning, robotics, and others are transforming various industries, and construction is no exception. Because of this, construction professionals are able to streamline cumbersome processes and focus on bigger and more exciting things. 

That being said, successfully implementing technology starts with investing in the right tools. As Samiha Shakil, Senior VDC Engineer at Skanska points out, "When you invest in the right tech, you’re also investing in the people you employ." 

She continues, "There are many people with tons of potential, and we need to make sure they’re equipped with tools that improve their work processes, help deliver quality projects and empower them to be better professionals all around.”

Integrating different technologies is also something that construction professionals should focus on. "Taking advantage of what 2020 has taught us — construction professionals and firms, should invest more in R&D of integration of new technologies," says Ruhi Thakur, Assistant Project Manager at Webcor.

Younger people are entering the industry

It’s not just about technology though. Construction continues to be a people-driven field, and the next generation of professionals entering the workforce will brighten up the industry even more. 

Jessica Bowlin, Building Construction Instructor at Auburn High School, says that the “up and coming workforce — the Gen Zs” is what she finds most exciting about construction. 

She says, “They're going to take us so much further than we ever thought possible.”

These are just a few nuggets of wisdom shared by Autodesk’s 40 Under 40 Champions of Construction. To see last year’s full list of 40 Under 40 winners, click here.

Know someone perfect for 2021’s 40 Under 40 List?

Nominations open: August 17, 2021 to September 17, 2021

Autodesk’s 40 Under 40 will be a list of shining (and rising) stars in the industry. It will recognize construction professionals under the age of 40 who are making waves in the AEC field for their creativity, forward-thinking, and dedication, particularly over the last few months. 

Nominees must meet the following criteria:

  • Someone who has made a big impact in their role in 2021. 
  • A professional who has demonstrated exceptional leadership. 
  • An industry pioneer who has implemented or managed technology with a major impact on a project and their company. 

Have someone in mind? Be sure to hit the nominate button on or before the 17th of September!



Alyssa Jaber

As Manager of Customer Marketing at Autodesk, Alyssa Jaber has been partnering with Autodesk customers in the construction space for 5+ years to build their brands and powerfully tell their stories. Alyssa is a human-first leader who supports a team of talented individuals who always put the customer experience first.