A Latina in the Construction World
By: Janet Villarreal
As a woman and Latina, nothing excites me more than to be around accomplished women that I can relate to and look up to. Having great role models is especially crucial for those young women that are just getting their careers started. Pat Rodriguez-Gorman is an excellent example of a powerful and successful Latina that has positively influenced others and continues to pay it forward. If you are involved in the construction field, there is a good chance you have heard of her and her company, The Rodriguez Group. For those who haven’t been so lucky; well, let’s just say you are in for a treat!
Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, Pat knew early on what her career aspirations were. Her father, a Latino who owned a construction company, allowed her to work for him in the summers, getting her interested in becoming a contractor, and working in that field. Keep reading to find how more about Pat’s life, her work, how she balanced family and career, and what her company is all about.
Infórmate DFW: How have you been able to combine family and your career/business?
Pat Rodriguez-Gorman: When my kids were young, my parents were still alive, so my kids stayed with them and spent a lot of time with them, which I think it was good because they got to have a very strong relationship with their grandparents and I thought that was important […] I had to rely on my parents a lot to help me keep up with it all. It’s good to have someone you trust.
IDFW: What has been your greatest accomplishment?
PRG: My biggest accomplishment is my kids. They are good people. They’re a great example for anybody.
IDFW: What has been the greatest challenge you have faced in your career, as a woman AND Latina?
PRG: I think I would say it’s not accepting other people’s opinions of what I should do, because if you would have left it up to the men, you would be taking notes and answer the phone. You had to come up with your own plan. In the construction field being a female was hard enough, but being a Latina was something that you had to work twice as much.
IDFW: Share with us your experience at Dallas ISD.
PRG: It was pretty intense when I worked for the district, as the only woman that worked in the facilities area that I did, […] they needed someone to put the bond program together, they told me to do it and I had no idea how to do it. But it was very exciting to work with different people; engineers, architects, real estate people and the district. We had to determine the needs of each school, what type of school was needed and how much money was needed. There was a lot of convincing to do. It was hard but fun, you had to love construction and I love construction.
IDFW: How was it being the first chairwoman of the Hispanic Contractors Association?
PRG: That was challenging but very exciting and fun. The hood of the contractors’ trucks was where they did their office work, it sounds crazy but that’s how it was. Then you also saw a lot of their wives being involved too. You could see a little contractor getting a job, doing it well, growing their company. That was very exciting, getting contracts, getting into the big leagues. I got to be part of that.
IDFW: Tell us about The Rodriguez Group.
PRG: The Rodriguez Group does a couple of things. We’re mainly a construction company but we also do Real Estate because I’m also a Real Estate agent. Now Rodriguez Group owns some property so they have to manage the property. It’s not a huge operation but it’s a separate piece of work in management. We’ve also done some small renovations ourselves. I have someone
who works for me, Eddie Jasso, he works on-site through the DISD Bond program. He works with small contractors, either that had already been identified for the project or he goes out and recruits contractors for work.
IDFW: What do you most enjoy about your position as the vice-chairman of the Board of Managers at Parkland Hospital?
PRG: I have enjoyed very much working with the leadership of Parkland.[…] The biggest role to work the facility of the $1.3 billion dollar hospital has been to work with everybody to the big construction people to the smallest. It’s been a big challenge to try to meet everybody’s needs. I just help in how it’s carried out, what we need to do […] We [the board] just won the Texas Healthcare Trustees STAR Award for the leadership in Parkland.
IDFW: Any words of encouragement for young Latinos that may want to get involved in the construction field?
PRG: Go for it! Don’t be afraid. Put your foot out there and go for it. Always ask successful people, they will help you. Get involved with associations like the Regional Hispanic Contractors Association. Without a doubt, Pat Rodriguez-Gorman is very accomplished and successful, but there is another reason why she is well-regarded and respected among her peers: that she’s so humble despite all her achievements. She also has the admiration of the many women she has mentored and led along the way. Pat has some advice for those following in her footsteps: “I’m not a big talker, but I guess to never give up and always give back. Always help other people.”