As we close out the week and our celebration of Women in Construction Week, we’ll end by focusing on some of the women in leadership at McKinstry. From running businesses to developing new markets to mastering financials, these women are critical to driving excellence within McKinstry. As leaders, these women are making strides and driving impact in their careers, the industry and our communities every day.
Yana Lisikyan, Controller
Yana Lisikyan knows all things finances. With a background as a public accountant, financial analyst and auditor, Yana has been in the finance business her entire career. Currently, Yana serves as Controller for McKinstry – overseeing the day-to-day operations of the Finance & Accounting team and working directly with McKinstry’s CFO. Yana is responsible for financial reporting, customer billings, vendor payments, cash management and relationships with bankers, auditors and sureties.
Yana credits much of her professional success to leveraging networks and identifying and using available resources. Working for managers who have encouraged her growth by expanding her professional network has been an important part of her career growth and trajectory. “If I see someone with qualities that I appreciate, I reach out to them and ask them to meet with me for coffee or lunch,” says Yana. “Either it takes off from there or it ends, but either way you can enjoy the conversation.”
Yana doesn’t underestimate the power of relationships for women in technical roles. Her advice: spend the first couple years building and mastering technical knowledge and skill, and then spend time focusing on relationships. “As you move up into leadership positions, it’s less about technical skills and more about people skills,” says Yana. “It’s critical to learn to understand people – read their body language, discover what drives them and know what their values and motivators are.”
To foster broader networks and deeper relationships, Yana recommends simply spending time with others. “Go out and meet as many people as you can,” says Yana. “There are so many things you can learn from others.”
Lauren Yockman, Business Unit Manager
As Business Unit Manager of McKinstry’s Audio Visual team, Lauren Yockman manages 17 professionals focused on AV integration including conference room, meeting room and digital signage AV systems. Lauren’s leadership in developing and building McKinstry’s team and solutions in the AV market has positioned McKinstry as the premiere AV integrator in the Northwest. In just two years, Lauren and her team have been awarded the design and build-out of AV solutions for two new corporate headquarters; leveraged glowing client references to add new accounts; and continued to build hundreds of AV spaces each year for a Fortune 50 software company in Redmond.
Lauren’s career hasn’t always been on the AV path. She graduated with a degree in psychology and initially worked in human resources before determining that was not the right career path for her. She made a jump and began working as a superintendent in the residential construction industry, and then made another shift to McKinstry’s data services group. Even at McKinstry, Lauren’s career has taken twists and turns. Lauren first started with McKinstry 10 years ago, but left for one year before returning to the company. “I missed the small-company feel,” said Lauren. “The McKinstry team is flexible, sharp and smart.”
Lauren attributes her professional success to being fearless and persistent. She encourages other women to not be afraid to ask questions or bring their perspective to the table, even when it feels scary. Lauren has found that courage also helps to overcome adversity. “Remember that when life is hardest and the burden seems like it’s too much to bear, it is that moment in which you are strongest, when you learn the most and when you grow as a person,” says Lauren.
Lauren leverages her strengths and leadership experience to bring other women along in their careers. She recently co-founded the Pacific Northwest chapter of the AVIXA Women’s Council. “Always remember, there are ladies behind you facing the same struggles. Reach out when you can, and help the next one in line.”
Leslie Larocque, Vice President
Eleven years ago, Leslie Larocque joined McKinstry to initiate and develop a business in Colorado. She started out as half of a two-person team working out of her home and is now responsible for McKinstry’s $45 million annual business across a five-state region that employs more than 70 professionals. Leslie’s business development prowess and success in the marketplace earned her promotion after promotion – from Account Executive to Business Development Manager to Business Development Director to Regional Director–and finally, to Vice President.
Leslie attributes her success to working hard, striving for excellence and dedicating herself to her current role, no matter what it is. She also acknowledges that she didn’t get here by herself and notes the importance of hiring awesome people and empowering them to do great work. Additionally, Leslie strongly believes in the importance of asking for what you want, lobbying for yourself and being persistent when your argument is sound. “My dad told me, ‘You will not get what you don’t ask for,’” said Leslie. “I have never forgotten that lesson.”
Filled with genuine passion, caring, and commitment to the team, it is not uncommon to see Leslie’s emotional side peek through when she talks about the people or business she cares so deeply about. Leslie’s learned to embrace her emotional side. “Part of me feels like I shouldn’t be that way or I should try harder to suppress it,” says Leslie. “But another part of me feels that I just need to let it out because the feelings are genuine. It is what it is, and I’m okay with it.”
As a woman and a leader, Leslie hopes to impart a critical lesson on the women on her team: you truly can have it all; you can balance a meaningful and successful career and still have family and flexible time. Leslie models this through working hard, being engaged, but also having flexibility in her work schedule – even occasionally bringing her daughter to work with her on school holidays. As a leader, she is committed to ensuring her team is empowered to have quality work-life balance. “We need people in society who are smart, engaged and want to have families,” says Leslie. “Businesses need to be flexible enough that women and men can do this and still have a successful career.”