Perma-Pier & BlackTie Plumbing employees, Larisa Pope, GM of BlackTie Plumbing, Molly Bishop, Project Scheduling Director, and Katrina Hamala-Crawford, Manager of Corporate Administration discuss female leadership and their roles at Perma-Pier. They also share their thoughts about being home for the holidays – their favorite holidays as well as family traditions. (This transcribed interview is a 3-minute read.)
How long have you been with Perma-Pier or BlackTie Plumbing, and what helped you choose working here over another organization in this type of role?
Katrina: I have been here for three and a half years and chose Perma-Pier because of the people during the interview, as well as the longevity of the company.
Larisa: I have been here for the last ten years, originally starting with Perma-Pier, then migrating to BlackTie Plumbing. I came from a different foundation company and chose Perma-Pier because I wanted to make a difference and utilize my skills from the foundation side of the business and work on growth by helping get the builder business up and running.
Molly: I just had my two-year anniversary yesterday (Dec. 10, 2020) with the company. I did not start off in management. I was promoted into management. The reason I came to this company (Perma-Pier) from a previous management position is I wanted to learn something new and a little different than what I had been doing.
What impact do you feel the female leadership role has in any organization in regards to helping affect company culture and creating a collaborative environment?
Larisa: I think the female leadership role both at Perma-Pier and BlackTie Plumbing – because it is one big team – has created a positive environment. As a female leader I tend to be a little more nurturing, like the “mama bear” to make sure everything is being done according to our processes and procedures. I think the female leadership overall is nurturing in this organization.
Katrina: Definitely, in a female leadership role we bring a little bit of a different perspective in a male-dominated industry. It helps balance out both sides and gets us to a place where we all have clear communication and we work as a team.
Molly: I agree completely with Katrina and Larisa in what they’ve said. I also think one thing we do – like with yin and yang and the balance – and can enjoy, is what Katrina said by bringing a different perspective to things. [Female leadership] also provides something for others in the organization to strive toward and not see a block or a ceiling. We also advocate for customers differently. [Customer advocacy] is one thing I see here and haven’t in other places; we do very well because the owners listen to female leadership in this organization.
What types of women inspire you or influence you to do more and take on more responsibility as a female leader In a male-dominated industry?
Larisa: I have a very dear friend who worked her way up from a police officer to a Sargeant to Deputy Chief, then she became the Chief of a Police Station. I have personally found her as a good role model for me; seeing her work herself through the rings in a male-dominated organization. She gave me pointers on how to be a positive leader and compassionate, as well as how to get your team to perform without being an abrasive type of person. I look to her for mentorship – she’s a little older than I am and she’s retired now. When I have stressful days and I need someone with great insight, I do call her and she’s there.
Katrina: I never wanted to be in management. The current President of James Avery was my manager at a different company when I first started out. She really helped push me to see a different perspective and helped me grow as a person. It made me want to be in leadership and to do well. She’s someone I still look up to because now she is the President of James Avery, which is a pretty well-known company. She stayed in touch with me for quite some time to push me and coach me and mentor me into a leadership role; she had an impact personally on me, as well.
Molly: Candidly, I don’t have just one person. I look at all people and find qualities I like and admire and try to emulate. My journey actually started in my upbringing with my dad. He had a very old-fashioned view of women – that they were weak. My journey even without realizing it, was to prove that theory wrong; to prove women can be just as strong and even stronger than men in certain situations. It led me to choose male-dominated fields and excelling [in them] – like being a paramedic – and showing I could lift people just as well as men. My male partners would count on me to physically “pull my weight” so to speak and match their strength. It was less about finding someone to be like and more about proving my dad wrong.
How do you keep yourself motivated and how do you share that motivation with your teams, i.e., books, routines, podcasts?
Larisa: I read a lot of leadership books, magazines, online articles – anything I can find to help me become a better leader. I came from being an office manager, just leading a small office, to now a general manager with the whole nine yards. To Molly’s point, you have different types of people. I have people who do collaborate and then those who don’t collaborate. It’s important to find out how to motivate everyone to work together and to come together and agree on the end result, which is to help the customers and make sure they are satisfied. I do motivational meetings and share things that will motivate the individual teams – administration, sales, service, and a large meeting for everyone. I want to make sure as a leader, people are motivated and encouraged to work together as a team.
Katrina: My daily stresses and challenges motivate me, as well as seeing my team members grow individually. One of my team members I’ve known for ten years and I’ve seen her grow tremendously both personally and professionally. She’s probably my number one person for customer service now. Seeing that growth motivates me the most. I do listen to books and things to help me personally and professionally. I enjoy taking personality tests and learning more about myself.
Molly: My team, in regard to our focus here, is motivated and dedicated to making a difference and helping people; they are very detail-oriented. In a general sense, to avoid going too deep or specific, one thing that helps my team, especially on the hard days, is reminding them to remember what we’re here to do and what we’re trying to accomplish; reminding them we are not only here for the customers, but also each other. In our scheduling department, one of our goals is to make sure our crews get a full week of work and we think about how their families at home need them; our crew provides for their families. Little things we do are critical to the overall success of everyone. You can lose sight of the big picture sometimes with tunnel vision. We work to think about our crew, customers, co-workers, and how what we’re doing or not doing could make, break, or help things. We want our impact on others to be good and positive and elevating.
In the fashion of Home for the Holidays: What is a fun holiday tradition you enjoy – individually or as a family – which has been happening on for a long time?
Larisa: My family’s favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. I know everyone is like “Christmas”, but we are “Thanksgiving.” We have this big family sit-down dinner and of course we’re thankful for everything in our lives. We play games, watch movies, eat, and start all over again. My favorite tradition is definitely to have dinner with my family on Thanksgiving. We don’t really have a big family, most of my family lives in California, so my mother, my sisters, my nephews and my son, are one big happy family here [in Texas], so Thanksgiving is the holiday we like. Also – when I have time off for the holidays, I need to stay away from Hobby Lobby! I love Hobby Lobby.
Katrina: Christmas is my favorite holiday. I get to see family I normally don’t get to see that often. We draw names, so it’s not all about buying presents; we buy one person a present as Secret Santa. We get to spend quality time with friends and family. My dad’s side of the family is in Houston and is ginormous. My dad is the oldest male and has ten siblings. Those siblings are all married and have kids, and some of them are married and have kids, so we have fun every year spending time together. We even get to spend time with people who we don’t really know or see because they aren’t immediate family.
Molly: It’s a tie between Thanksgiving and New Year’s; both cross over the boundaries of most all cultures and religions. Thanksgiving is the parade, good food, relaxing. I usually find a gourd that’s nice, pretty, and smooth and put it on the table with a sharpie. I vow to write down anything I’m grateful for and let my family write anything they’re thankful for on the gourd. By the time we get to Thanksgiving the gourd is hopefully full (or over-full) and is a great reminder to set the tone of the season. For New Year’s I like the idea of a fresh start. We don’t do anything fancy. We do the Twilight Zone marathon, play a bunch of games to bring in the new year, have food, and enjoy each other’s company. We toast and go to each person there and tell them what we wish for them in the new year. I like the idea of these holidays the most and what they stand for.
Final note by Molly for the Home for the Holidays: Perma-Pier Female Leadership interview: One parting thing I want to say especially to females in leadership, a super important thing to remember is to take care of ourselves and apply self-care. We’re putting out so much and doing so much for people on our team and the company. We would do well and be wise to make sure we give ourselves the same amount of love and attention we give to others and keep our batteries charged.
—This point was appreciated by all of us! (Keep In mind while she started sharing this note Katrina was sharing adorable photos of her brand-new dalmatian puppy, Luna Ray – seen in the image – and we were all talking in high-pitched voices for thirty seconds.)—
Here is a fun holiday video-greeting our leadership team recently released. We hope you enjoy it!
If you have an idea for more employee topics you would like to see or would like to know more about opportunities with Perma-Pier or BlackTie Plumbing, please email your questions and ideas.
Interview Friday, Dec. 11, 2020 4:30p.m. by Kristy K. Boone