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Life in Balance

Ever wonder how to get everything done at work and still manage to enjoy your family? Well, IFMA’s Erin Valentine tells the St. Louis Business Journal how she juggles her job while finding time to work out, spend quality time with her husband and daughter, and support other women in the construction industry.  

The work Erin Valentine does can be equal parts challenging and rewarding, but she finds moments of relief through the support of other women in the industry and by spending time with family.

Erin Valentine never expected to go into construction. Nonetheless, Valentine began building her career in her hometown of St. Louis and soon found herself at the $3.7 billion McCarthy Building Cos. She has been at the company for more than 15 years and now works as director of business development. The work she does can be equal parts challenging and rewarding, but she finds moments of relief through the support of other women in the industry and by spending time with family.

How do you cope with a stressful job? De-stressing is obviously a challenge. I’ve developed a pretty structured routine. The first thing in the morning, my alarm goes off. I don’t know why, but it’s set for 4:11 a.m., unless I have to get up earlier. I’ve also found spending time with other professional women, especially as I’ve gotten older, is important. I’ve been able to develop some really good bonds and friendships and relationships with women who are in similar roles or similar organizations. And certainly last but not least, spending time with my family is always helpful to help me de-stress. 

What does having the support of other professional women mean to you? Some of it is awareness that you’re not alone in this. For me, that’s been a transformation in the last 10 years. I’ve had those realizations and those “A-ha moments.” I had a proud moment in the office the other day. There was a project team that was in one of our glass conference rooms, and I walk by, and every person in the room except for one is a female. You would not have seen that 10 years ago and it’s super exciting for me, and a positive sign of where we can go with effort.

How does spending time with family help you de-stress? My husband is a cop, I have my work, and my daughter is in high school and on her school’s basketball team, so we all have busy weeks. We try to make the weekends free to go out to dinner to spend time with one another, give us all a chance to debrief, go over our week and just talk to one another. 

What’s your favorite activity to do with your family? We go through phases, and generally Christmas break, we find we need something to do. I think since Christmas we have done a dozen puzzles. Right now, we are working on a 2,000 piece puzzle, and it is sitting on our table. We work on it bit by bit, whenever we have free time. 

If you could pass on a piece of advice to your daughter, what would it be? The one thing I try to always stress with her is to put forth effort and be willing to make sacrifices to do hard things. The value in the returns of those things, they pay off. That feeling of accomplishment comes from hard work. It’s not about luck, although that certainly plays into it. It’s putting forth all of your best effort, and being willing to give up that fun stuff for what’s going to be better in the long run.