How to succeed as a woman business owner in a male dominated industry w/Audree Grubesic

February 22, 2022 Brigitte Bojkowszky Season 6 Episode 61
How to succeed as a woman business owner in a male dominated industry w/Audree Grubesic
Show Notes Transcript

✨“STEM industry: Amazing women that need to move forward and empower themselves with their brilliant minds of science and math and technology. Get it out there girls.”💫 — Audree Grubesic

Audree M Grubesic inspires future leaders in STEM by telling her story about how she succeeded as a woman business owner in a male dominated industry.

In STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics)

  • 29% of the STEM labor force are women
  • 19% of STEM company board members are women
  • 3% are women CEOs.

💡Learn about how to self-advocate and thrive as a woman business owner in a male dominated industry.

💡Listen to Audree's success story of building an authentic personal brand and uniquely position company brands in a male dominated industry. 

💡Bonus: if you are a woman who wants to start her own business in the STEM industry get invaluable pieces of advice of HOW-TO-DO-IT! 

📹 Watch us Live: 

Get in touch with Audree Grubesic:

Get in touch with Brigitte Bojkowszky:


Ready for brand stories, get inspired and learn from thought leaders, CEOs, business owners, and managers who tell their brand stories who share their valuable insights from their own experience. Welcome to brandstalk. I'm your host Brigitte. For brand lovers this show is to help you develop and grow your brand in a more strategic and sustainable way. Walk the Talk. Let's get started and dive with me into the world of brands. Audree is the Founder & CEO of Modular Sure Site, an Off-Site construction consulting company, offering services for residential and commercial projects. She has first-hand experience of construction and project management on site of their projects. Over the past 20+ years, she has excelled in marketing, sales, new business development, and homebuilding. Her goal is to build relationships with clients, subcontractors, vendors and creating processes to streamline procedures on modular commercial and residential projects. She believes there are always areas to improve the modular construction process, create a positive work culture, automate systems, continuing learning and collaborate with technology-driven services. Being a women-owned business in construction and managing projects on-site has allowed Audree to communicate plainly with her clients about the build process, construction details and to make them feel at ease for future site-work questions. I warmly welcome Audree Grubesic! Welcome to BrandsTalk. Oh, this is so great. I'm so excited to be here. And I'm thrilled and honoured to see you and to be on the show. So thank you. Thank you so much, Audree, that you are my valued guests today. We have known each other for almost a year now. And it really was time to eventually have this conversation about self advocating and thriving as a woman in the STEM industry. It stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. And that is a very, very male dominated industry. So before we dive deep into that, Audree, could you tell us a little bit about your background and about your journey that brought you right there where you are now? Absolutely. So it's interesting because I went to college for mass communications. And I was lucky enough to it's all about perseverance. And that's what you're going to kind of notice a little bit more about me as we go through this journey together. But I was one of the youngest female engineers, a TV engineer in Chicago at WB BM, which was a CBS affiliate. And then I kind of worked in TV for about 10 years. Through that journey. I learned a lot about process engineering, behind the scenes, working with people and working with people of all different types of cultures and race and this diversity, which was really exciting, but also learning so much being in news. So from there, I really started learning about marketing and communication. And I did everything in sales from TV, radio, billboards, print, you name it, I had an advertising agency. So I really span that globe. And in that time, I transitioned from Chicago over to Colorado, and had several businesses. So I feel like I'm kind of like that serial entrepreneur, I went from the corporate world into owning my own businesses. And then in between those businesses also working for other companies. So I have always been, you know, doing my own thing, but also kind of figuring out the culture of other companies and working with them and pursuing that. And just about eight years ago, while I was selling advertising and placing advertising for clients, I met a custom home builder. And it's interesting because I always felt like I was going to get in some type of real estate but I just didn't understand or know what that was until I met these home builders. And this home Miller was really exciting and they wanted to change their brand. They wanted to figure out how they could be perceived more as a lead builder in the community. and also come in at this very reasonable price point. So it was kind of like marrying to things that never married before. Usually, you know, if you're a luxury custom home builder, you don't come in at a reasonable price point, your price point is higher. So we did this redevelopment. And at that same time, they're like, you're really good with people, would you be interested in doing sales for us. So at that time, I was able to kind of transition help in both roles. And I was able to have success in selling, I think I sold like somewhere around $11 million worth of business in six months. But it wasn't about the money as that was just a factor of what it was, the bigger thing was bringing these clients and having these relationships and working in the Custom World of building. And that was traditional building, then I moved to another builder, because I moved up to Denver, and kind of the same similar type of opportunity. But one thing I learned from that builder, which many builders go through this is they were holding too much land. And when you hold too much land, and you're paying interest to your investors, that takes up the portion of your profits. So you start seeing the business side, right. And then one day I came to work, they could no longer keep the company functioning. And through that one year that I was with them, I started learning about off site construction. And so offsite construction is basically a method of construction that is typically created in a factory. And then either it's assembled or it's pieces or it's boxes, and then it shipped to the site. And that's how it's affixed to the foundation and created. It blew my mind. Yeah, this practice has been around for hundreds of years. And then all of a sudden, I had no idea until about five years ago. And I started modular sir site. What an interesting story, and what an interesting journey and you grab the opportunity that was out there just waiting for you. So I would like to go a little bit deeper into your journey of becoming your own boss. So what made you really do this bold step to start your own business in the first place? And then in such a male dominated sector? what was it that made me want to do it, I kept seeing these men do it. I had, I didn't meet a lot of women doing it. And if that's kind of been my whole career, even when I was an engineer, there wasn't a lot of females in TV in the engineering part, you know, like everybody's in front of the camera. And I always just felt comfortable in that space. I think the reason I felt comfortable is because I felt I feel like I've always run, I've always been in the energy of my masculine. So it was an easy transition for me to be in these masculine areas, adapt and be adaptable. And I wanted to just do it because I felt like watching them, seeing them what they have done learning from their mistakes, watching them, I could create my own successful business. And I just got to the point where I'm sure a lot of your listeners are probably in that same, you know, roll budget is that you get to the point where you're like, I can do this, I just have to step into doing it. How interesting. So, Audree, how is it to have a presence and work as a woman in a male dominated industry? Because the numbers really speak for themselves there are 29% of STEM labour force, only women 90% Only our board members and 3% only of them and CEOs in that specific industry. I know it's time to change that and with you as being so courageous and powerful. We can do that. Yeah. So is it hard to advocate for yourself in that specific industry? And how do your business partner street you are you prejudiced from your male business partners? Because you are a woman? How do you cope with that and how do you be at your best big evolution? So when I started this and I started modular sure site I contracted I'm very good with communication and acquiring opportunities because I think I'm transparent. I'm honouring, I have integrity and people and I'm my authentic self when I'm with them. So I contract projects and being able to get businesses very easy for me. Plus, I say what I'm going to you know, when I when I say I'm going to do something, I do it so I contracted for projects when I started modular sure site, and I was the general contractor for all four of these projects. I was driving 500 miles a week. I was also doing operations and insurance and every single piece that you would have an entire team for these five or six people I was doing it all myself. Here's the thing that that taught me One we are capable, we are stronger than what we think we are. It was so much learning so much, so much more than I could possibly explain. And through it, I didn't know if I was going to make it or not. After I got done with those projects, and the projects kept getting better and easier, I learned a tremendous value that people in any industry do not have to have all the answers, they just have passion, they have to believe in themselves, and they have to move themselves forward, you have to take the step, it's never gonna be easy, you're going to make mistakes. And that's all okay. We don't have to punish ourselves for things we don't know. And we don't need 15 degrees to prove ourselves that we're better or more qualified in an industry, we can do this. And so from that experience, and going through that, I started realising my capabilities and what I was really good at, I was really good at pre construction, I was really good at talking with architects, civil engineers, and speaking the language. And when I was doing all of that kind of like you, Bridgette, I also decided that I'm going to do a podcast, I'm going to start talking to people in the industry. Because I'm moving so fast, I can't read 15 books a day, I can at least talk to the experts in these fields, and actually understand from them and their perspective and learn from them. So as this was all going on, I was constantly learning. And when we talk about right, there's not that many female in this industry, I feel like we're changing it. I feel like women are getting stronger. For my personal journey. It started five years ago when I started meditating. And I started becoming more clear about what I wanted. And being more centred in myself not self centred, but centred in myself in my power. And I also started realising that I was running and being of this masculine power being like all these men, that but really what truly made me special in the industry of what I was, was my feminine part of who I was the softer side, the receiving side, realising it's okay to lean on others having conversations. So I see more women in power now that are expanding this other part of their spiritual growth and their independence. Like I look at, you know, people that empower me like I look at Oprah, right? And I look at all the interviews, but the thing that I think she's most in my mind successful is when she does her Super Soul Sundays, and she starts really connecting with her heart and starts speaking that language, I can understand that that was the thing I was missing all along. So I think we need women to start stepping in their power connecting with their heart and their truth, moving themselves forward and knowing they have the ability to do it. And here's the thing you and I both know, if we don't know it, we know how to find the answers to get it. Exactly, exactly. And what you are saying is so wonderful. And it really ties perfectly into my next question. You are definitely a woman thought leader, and you with your renowned reputation in your industry. So to say you are a strong personal brand in your field, there is no question about that. And you have mentioned it before, what does it mean to you to be a personal brand? And your you said authentic self? So what does this mean to you? And how can women leverage that further in a male dominated industry? Well, first, I think they need to go to your masterclass because I sat in one of them. And I think that we need to start really breaking it down and being really seeing who we are, you know, sitting still asking the questions, what do we really what? How do we want to get there? How do we do it, and leave the space open for it to come? Right? Authenticity, we all know who we are. We all know what skill sets we bring, we just have to start believing in ourselves, allowing ourselves to be in that space and giving ourselves permission. One of the things that I think I was telling you Brigitte a while back last year, I took a class about empowering myself with my finances. I you know, I'm in a woman that's in you know, my, my enter part of my career like I'm getting to the other part of this career. And I was like, you know, I should really start figuring out my finances I need to start taking control of that. And what I found out a lot of that has to do with mindset has to do with limiting beliefs exactly what you were talking about at your, you know, at your master cap class that I was at. We have to stop these limiting beliefs. These limiting beliefs are what holds us back Right, once we can identify them, and we can heal that or correct it or no, that's not really our truth. That is when like the freedom comes, and we can start doing things we never thought possible. And those right people start coming in, and we start connecting with the individuals that reflect who we are and what we believe in. It's this. It's like the synergy of the universe. It's the only way I can explain it. And that has really been what has given me such great success. I've always had all these types of businesses, I've always found the right thought leaders in there, I follow the people that were doing the best in the industry. And I was taking that all in to then figure out how do I want to do it? Exactly. And there's a lot of people that are thinking they do not have the strength and the power to overcome that and really be authentic, which means that you are living by your own values. That's what you are. They don't they're because they think they're not good enough. They can't do that. So I think that's the first step to to take the power to step into your own greatness that this is okay. Because I think also a lot of people don't see their own greatness. Because and I think I think another another thing on top of that, Bridgette don't mean to interrupt you. But I think the other thing is we keep thinking it's outside there exactly what it's in here, it's in us, we hold the answers for ourselves, we know our truth. We also know our gifts, we know our abilities, we know what things are really good at what things were not. And we always concentrate on the what things we're not good at, what if we flip the mindset about, I'm really good at this. This is where I need to be, let's accentuate this. It's we are searching always for the outside validation that we are good enough versus it looking inside, we have all the answers inside us in how we are at best. And I think this is one of the key factors or understandings that we have to have that it is in us that we do not need outside validation in order to agree at our best right. I agree. I totally agree with you. Yeah. And if that if we take that one step further, how does that influence us in our leadership, not only to lead us ourselves, but also others. So it's interesting because I, we both agree that we have the answers inside of us, right. But I also think there's this other part of us if we are open to it, where we can learn from others, we can read books, listen to podcasts, understand how we expand that journey or our interest and listen to how other people are doing. We don't have to hold all the answers like, for example, in offsite construction, or in a house to build a house, there are like 200,000 moving parts in a house, when you put all the pieces together. That's how many pieces are into a house, there's no possible way that anyone can do all of it. And I when I was going into it, and probably a lot of your audience, you know, they know what they're good at. But they're like, gosh, I just don't know if I know enough about it to really step in and do this. This is like really overwhelming. But here's the answer. Nobody does. It's all those people, all those leaders, all those people that are willing to take the step and go a little further. And it doesn't have to be a huge step. It doesn't mean you have to make this mammoth shift in your life, to get to where you need. It's small, little incremental steps. But I do think the one thing that we do need to be conscious of is every day, we also have to bring in joy, we have to bring in peace, we have to have resolve, we have to know that there is a capacity of only how much that we can also, you know, absorb or be of, we have to we have to find our own breath. We have to be our own true self. But we also have to know that it comes in pieces and time, it doesn't mean it all has to come in at one time. That's a wonderful advice to build our personal brand in that industry. So if we summarise that, what are your let's say three to five pieces of advice for women who want to start their own business in the STEM industry and be their best. What would you suggest them? Well, well, we know that they're in the STEM industry because there they are really good at something. Yeah, it might be math, it might be science, it might be technology, right. So I guess the next thing is they have to start empowering themselves to say I can I believe I know, right? Once they get to that space, and they are in, let's say they are working for a corporation, they need to study what interests them first, what empowers them, what makes them feel excited about what they're doing? Passion, excitement, drive, all of those things lead us to be our best and our most authentic self. And that's usually the area that we find how we can be a part of that business or be a part of step or be a part of that next level of where we need to go. So I think it's an inner journey, I think it's finding out what we really find feel passionate about. And then it's watching the leaders that are doing it the best that they find for themselves that empower them. And then it's literally you gotta take the step forward. Yeah, I think it's really about the big why, why are you doing that what inspires you, and then how you can inspire others, that means also having a vision where you want to be in two in five in 20 years, what legacy you want to leave behind, and taking, taking action, having the courage, I think taking action is the antidote of having fear. So you really need to go into it, face it head on, and you will be fine. But it's taking the first step, and also steps that are bite sized steps. So steps that you really are able to take that is not overwhelming and following your path. Alright, so conversely, what would be some mistakes that shall be avoided on this extraordinary brief journey, in this transition in starting your own business in such a male dominated industry. So I think we have to be realistic about living and making money because we still have to support ourselves. So it all depends on how, like, for me, I'm an all in person, which means that if I'm when I stepped into construction, I basically said, Not only am I going to I'm using all this experience that I had, I'm going to build from what I know. And I'm going to lead forward. So I jumped in, and I knew that I could bring in my business. One of the biggest things when you're doing this is that you have to know how you can bring in your business, how you support yourself. So when we're talking with other women, it might be really smart to take a small step, keep your job and start this other venture. And and the best thing is, don't put so much pressure on yourself, right? Continue with your job, start start doing, you know, one of your courses and learning your mindset, start mapping it out, and start taking your time with it to develop. But I'm completely opposite. I've never been that way I am kind of, I'm just kind of one of those, those those girls that are like, You know what I'm all in, I'm going and I won't stop, I'll figure it out. But that doesn't work for everybody. So it just depends on how you feel most comfortable. And some of the things for me and what I learned were finding valued and authentic and people with integrity. Finding the right partners is a big one. Reading your contracts and know what kind of contracts you have up front when you're doing business. I'm watching for me, I feel like I'm more of an intuitive person. So when I'm sitting across from someone, and I'm talking to him about business or discussion, I'm interviewing that person as I'm meeting them, especially if they're working somewhere somehow with my business. So I think you have to be strategic in that in that manner. Yeah, strategic, but also, as you say, you're interviewing a person a human being and connecting with them on a visceral level really understanding them stepping into their shoes, what are their needs? What are their pain points? And what are the pain points of your ideal clients? What are their major pain points? Well, that's a biggie, because we've got different types of clients, right? I'm working on commercial projects, and I'm working on residential projects. Okay. And so residential projects when you're talking about a home for any person that is one of their biggest investments. So the pain point is, are we going to finish this home on time? I have a loan there's restrictions. Do I have the right selections, right? So you're you're dealing with these very personal feelings. The biggest investment of their life. So you're you're dealing with a person emotionally, I feel like on the commercial side, the commercial side is so much more different. The commercial side I feel is is more structured, it's contracts and states, it's times it's filled schedules, get things done, this is how it goes. There's no emotion in it. So you have two different gamuts that you're working with. Right? Exactly. And you really have to understand, and them in their specific sphere. And when it comes to home owners, I mean, it's so important to build trust, because it's really about a huge investment. And they are not doing that like every day. Yeah, it's a very high involvement. And speaking and knowing what expectations are, that is the one thing I've learned over the last 10 years is, what is our expectation? Because I have a different expectation of how I want to do something than somebody else that I'm working with, I think clear communication, understanding the expectation, this is how we can fulfil, let's all get on the same page. So we all know what's happening here, resolve so much like it's about communication and not being clear. Yeah, these expectations are so important because you want to meet or exceed those expectations. And it's of utmost importance that you really deliver through that you can meet them now because then you are successful. And then you can thrive and you will be in the market for long term. All right, I would like to ask you a branding question. You have interesting company names. And usually there is a story behind naming companies. One is modular sure site, so that that's what I understand. And your thought patterns behind. And there is also off site dirt. I love that brand name, please. Is there a story behind? And if yes, tell us? Yes. So modular sure site. When I started my company five years ago, modular construction was the buzzword. And so I wanted to create a company that would come up through because I'm like you Bridget, I there's always a strategy. And the strategy was how can I get higher rankings on Google and be found and attached to an industry with a word. So that's where modular shirts I came, the sure site came because I was doing general contracting work. And I wanted to make sure that my site was of the best value. So I wanted to have a sure site. So that's how modular sure site came. And now it's evolving into consulting. So we might have to rebrand that. Bridgette, we might have talked about that another time. Exactly. So so I'm off site. Dirt is my media channel. So several years ago, I started interviewing people once a month in the off site, industry. So off site is a very broad term for lots of different construction opportunities, technology, events, all these things that encompass off site. So it could be panelized. It could be it can be modular volumetric. It could be containers, it can be anything that's basically built off site and brought onto the site as a build structure. So everything starts with the dirt, everything does right. So that's how we kind of came off with off site dirt, we wanted to bring the dirt to people on what was happening in the industry. We wanted to bring all of these amazing individuals nationally, internationally together, what was happening in this you know, this, this industry, I'll say construction is only 9% of the industry or maybe even eight, all building, it's not that big. And when you start getting into your niche, it gets smaller and smaller. So we just wanted to have like a flashy name or logo has a globe in it because we want to have a global brand and identify with that. And we it was just kind of like a play on words like off site dirt, what's the dirt? Okay, so that's so interesting. I love that. So um, when it comes to branding, and you are also very aware marketing and you have branding experience. Do you have any advice for corporates who want to shift to solopreneurship and become their own personal brand and start their own company brand? Do you have some key branding essentials? Advice, the takeaway for them from your experience? Okay, so what first and foremost, mindset is the biggest key to this whole thing? That's how I feel about it. I think your mindset is the thing that carries you forward, figuring out What your limiting beliefs are. So know those two things right off the bat. The next thing is, once you start, you know, stop the limiting beliefs, you come to centre with mindset, then the plan of action starts taking place. And I think it's personal to every single individual. How do they see themselves? What do they want to project out to their client? How does their logo, their website? How do all those things represent who they are? Right? It's putting the like you said, it's putting it all together. So I truly believe when I look at things like that, I really do think it's so beneficial. If you don't know where to start. It is so helpful look at I mean, look at what you're doing. Look at someone that already has the experience the education and has the game plan, why recreate something when you can just follow an action plan, and know you're being steered in the right way, you don't have to waste as much time where we are in the world we live in today, and especially for women and men. We have children at home, we have online school, we have mandates we're trying to get through, there's enough stress. And now we're going to take on this other part of our life, streamline and to make it simple. Anytime you can simplify that go for it. Why make it more complicated? Make it more efficient and effective? Absolutely. I'm a huge proponent of that. And it's all about strategy, of course. Again, great, thank you so much, Audree. You're almost at the end of our show. And I would like to do a quick word wrap with you. Are you ready to give me quick and short answers to that? Okay. STEM industry amazing women that need to move forward and empower themselves with their brilliant minds of science and math and technology. Get it out there girls. Wow, great mindset. All about healing, expanding meditation, resilient leadership, honour and divine power. Leadership. Wisdom. Okay. And last but not least brands. I am. I am of all of this. Wow. That's it. That's great. I love it. So Audree, for listeners who would like to get in touch with you? Where would they find you? So LinkedIn is always good. Audree Grubesic is who I am. So we have that I'm sure in the show notes. If you are looking about offsite construction, because offsite construction also empowers engineers, architects, technology, all of those women, this might be an industry you might want to start moving into because the numbers are staggering, and how much it's going to be increasing over the next 10 years. So you can also find me on Audree, thank you so much for being my guest today on BrandsTalk. It was a pleasure having you here, to learn about your success story and inspire all the women leaders to assert oneself in a male dominated industry. Oh, my gosh, it's a pleasure. And I continue to keep watching you grow and flourish. And it's so great that not only are you here in the national market, but the international market. Bridgette, you're awesome. So thank you. Thank you so much, Audree. And this was my conversation with Andre Grubesic. If you liked my show, head over to and sign up for my newsletter to never miss an episode. I look forward to welcoming you in my community. Also, don't forget to subscribe to my brandstalk podcast on your preferred app. share it on social media and if you find a minute or two, leave a quick grading or review. Thank you so much. I hope you will stay tuned in on the next episode. When we dive into the world of brands.