Mar 08, 2022

Inviting Opportunity

Making connections, learning new skills & keeping up with the industry

Brooke Schiavone
Brooke Schiavone, president of Jobsite Products Inc.

Brooke Schiavone is president of Jobsite Products Inc. SWS associate editor Cristina Tuser spoke with Schiavone about what it means to be a woman in water to commemorate Women's History Month.

Cristina Tuser: How did you get started in your career?

Brooke Schiavone: My father, Steve Leonard, saw a future in the erosion and sediment control industry very early on. After working in the field for several years in the 1980s and 1990s, he saw an opportunity for growth in an expanding industry, and in 1995, Jobsite Products Inc. was born. I was on a different career path at that point in my life, but sometime after college I decided to pivot and began working full time for Jobsite Products in 2005. I started learning the business and industry — still not completely sure where it would lead me — but proud and excited by the work we were doing. I quickly came to love our niche market. I was enticed by the people in the community, locally, nationally, and internationally and the positive impacts we were having on the environment. I have an incredible mentor and teacher in my father, and eventually the idea of my career and future began to come into view. In 2020, I was honored to be promoted to president of the company.

CT: Tell me about some of your notable achievements.

BS: In 2008, I was nominated to serve on the Board of Directors for the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the International Erosion Control Association (MAC-IECA), a title I still hold today. Most notably in 2020, we were nationally certified as a Women's Business Enterprise (WBE) through the Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), the nation's largest third-party certifier of businesses owned and operated by women in the U.S. — a designation we are extremely proud to have. This enabled us to be eligible for the WBE/DBE status in the state of PA under the Pennsylvania Unified Certification Program (PAUCP).

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CT: What are some challenges you have faced in your career that have helped you get where you are now?

BS: This is a relatively young and rapidly evolving industry, and you must stay on your toes to keep up. I think some of your readers will agree, it is certainly not the same industry it was when my father started the business. In today’s climate especially, you must be quick to react to price changes, supply chain delays, raw material shortages, staffing shortages, competition from larger corporations — the list goes on.

CT: Tell me about your experience finding female colleagues and mentorship throughout your career.

BS: Despite being the only, or one of very few, females in the room for years, I was never intimidated by that “good ol’ boy” mentality you still hear of too often in the field today. For a long time, female colleagues were few and far between, but that number has increased greatly in the last 10 years, and I’m so happy to see it. When I joined the MAC IECA board in 2008, I was the only female for several years. Now we’re up to about 20% female directors, and I look forward to watching that number grow. If anything, the lopsided gender ratio in our circle has helped us to form even faster bonds. Female subgroups are popping up everywhere in the industry, and it’s nice to see so many women at conferences and networking events. The future is female, right?

CT: What advice would you give to young women entering the industry?

BS: There are many avenues to pursue in storm water, so keep an open mind. This industry is growing rapidly, and there is more room than ever for females. Get involved in organizations. Volunteer for committees. Meet people.

CT: What do you wake up looking forward to and what is next for your career?

BS: I love the sense of familiarity and community that comes from working with our loyal clients for so many years; a quality I believe has led to our continued expansion and growth.

 

*Editor’s note: Answers have been edited for clarity and length.

About the author

Cristina Tuser is associate editor for SWS. Tuser can be reached at ctuser@sgcmail.com.

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