McKinstry’s Molly O’Neill-Schroeer on Making a Positive Difference

“I have always been a ‘walk the talk’ kind of person who will continue to be mindful of doing my part to continue to learn in this space and continue to focus on strengthening human connections through meaningful movement forward.”

Molly is a senior construction manager, leading the construction team for Energy in Oregon and has been with McKinstry since 2019. Molly is constantly striving to make positive impacts in her communities and empower those around her. She was recognized as a 2023 Impact Award recipient as she has been a consistent champion of social and environmental initiatives at McKinstry.

Learn more about Molly’s career path in the industry and the purposeful work she is a part of inside and outside of the office.

Learn More About Molly’s Experience

What is your role at McKinstry? How did you get there?

I am a senior construction manager, leading the construction team for Energy in Oregon. In this role, one of my main focuses has been helping build and lead our construction efforts. We have done great work over the last two and a half years and this year we are focusing on increasing our revenue and gross margin goals, while also being purposeful in continuing our delivery excellence. We want to ensure that our team, projects and customers are set up for success.

I’ve had a long journey to get where I am today but I wouldn’t change anything. Years ago, I was filing paperwork at a general construction company in Chicago and started to listen in on meetings and became interested in the actual construction process. I started bugging project managers and operations staff to teach me and was lucky enough to have a few individuals take me under their wing. From there, I went to the MEP subcontracting world in Chicago and was then approached by McKinstry to move out to Oregon, originally to work on our New Construction Majors mechanical division where I was for two years, until I moved over to our Energy team where I have been the last two and half years, so almost five total years at McKinstry and it’s been a great ride.

How did you develop an interest in your field?

I enjoy helping clients in my community in terms of energy efficiency and sustainability. The work that I did early in my career in K-12 and higher education was a positive experience for me as I was able to see how the smallest changes and upgrades can make an incredible impact on a community. The reward for me is knowing that something I touched positively impacts people and our communities.

Additionally, I enjoy the ability to empower women in this industry. When I entered the industry, there were few women in construction, especially from an operations perspective. I enjoy having the opportunity to help inspire more young women in this industry, support their journeys and help them remove barriers and break ceilings. I feel it is my duty to foster, mentor and encourage. This is a huge part of where I feel like my purpose lies.

What does success look like in your role?

Success is about what I can do for others whether it is a teammate, vendor or customer as we all strive for sustainability through positive change. More specifically, success is continuing to build a solid energy business here in Oregon, partnerships with our customers, making positive impacts in our communities and being there for one another. It’s truly inspiring to be a part of the great work that we all do.

What is the most rewarding thing about your work?

The most rewarding part of my role is watching those around me elevate and overcome a big challenge. In construction, we have to face challenges daily and be nimble in many instances, so watching people navigate and overcome those challenges is awesome. I always tell my team that “you are only as strong as your fellow teammate, we are in this together, leaders and pillars of our work.”  

What change do you hope to inspire through your work at McKinstry?

I hope to inspire future trailblazers. I hope that I can impact people in a positive way, not just women but all individuals. With all of the greatness I have been given throughout my career, it is my duty to give it back. This is what my focus has been for the last four or five years of my career and as I move into more of a leadership role, I am excited to be able to carry all of this with me and continue some sort of legacy for myself and McKinstry.

As a 2023 Impact Award recipient, what were a few highlights from your work last year?

One of the highlights this past year was aligning with Kate Kleyman on our vendor diversity manager, partnering on initiatives where we worked to organize and lead two events at our Portland office. The first event we invited local MWESB subcontractors and invited our entire McKinstry team, and we showcased McKinstry’s amazing teams and did a great job of telling our story. Later in the year, we partnered again and this time, invited the same diverse business partners to showcase who they are back to us. Both events were inspiring to watch as new partnerships began that will provide opportunity on our projects and allow for McKinstry to help mentor and support their success.

Another highlight has been the continued purposeful and impacting community outreach work that our PDX Gender Equity Alliance has continued to support. We had another round of volunteer work at Dress for Success Oregon, helping them gear up for one of their largest fundraisers. Dress for Success is the leading workforce development organization in Oregon that exclusively supports women and gender expansive folks, helping them find and retain work, support their families, and achieve personal & economic independence and stability.

What motivates you to continue advancing opportunities for others?

All in all, what continues to motivate me to have an impact on others is directly experiencing the positive impacts my work has on our customers, community, our vendors and one another. I have always been a “walk the talk” kind of person who will continue to be mindful of doing my part to continue to learn in this space and continue to focus on strengthening human connections through meaningful movement forward.

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