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Risk and Safety Manager
C.F. Jordan Construction L.L.C.
El Paso, Texas
As risk and safety manager at C.F. Jordan Construction L.L.C. in El Paso, Texas, Grace Gandarilla is responsible for the safety of 400 construction workers in El Paso and oversees thousands of employees of subcontractors throughout Texas. To manage it, she has built a risk management and safety program with a "leaders as teachers" approach that involves employees in identifying and managing risk. Her guidance has helped reduce Jordan Construction's rate of workplace incidents reportable to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to a level that is 85% lower than the national average for construction operations. The company's experience modification rate, which helps determine its workers comp costs, is 20% lower than the national average.
WHAT'S THE BEST PROFESSIONAL ADVICE YOU RECEIVED?
Have confidence in yourself and in your work. If you don't, no one else will. Be able to defend your decisions and know that you will not always be right, but at the end of the day you will know that you did your best.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUNG WOMEN ENTERING THIS FIELD?
Stand your ground and become knowledgeable in the field. When I first arrived at C.F. Jordan, everyone thought I was this young girl who didn't know much. After my first training session, I had several superintendents and project managers tell me that they were impressed by my knowledge and knew I meant business. I also pride myself on my ability to be diplomatic. Just because you are responsible for enforcing rules does not mean that you have to be harsh or mean. You must have the ability to communicate your point so the other person understands what they have done wrong and how they can avoid future issues.
OUTSIDE OF WORK AND FAMILY, WHOM DO YOU ADMIRE MOST?
Hillary Rodham Clinton. I admire her for her accomplishments despite the negative image and publicity that surrounded her during her husband's presidency. She always seems to be focused on the task at hand despite the chaos going on around her. She fights for what she believes to be right and stands firm whenever criticized. She is not concerned with what people think of her, but rather concentrates on helping to make this country better for all who reside here.
WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GREW UP?
An attorney. Having the ability to interpret the law always seemed interesting and I have a competitive nature. I looked at it as a battle of intelligence.
WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE MOVIE?
"Pride & Prejudice" (2005). In the beginning, Elizabeth Bennet has judged a book by its cover by disliking Mr. Darcy due to this wealth and introverted demeanor. In the end, she realizes that he, in fact, is the one she loves. She lets her guard down and allows herself to see the man he really is and not what she assumed he was. I believe everyone should take the opportunity to get to know a person before making assumptions about their character and background.
WHAT'S THE MOST INTERESTING PLACE YOU'VE BEEN?
I recently had the opportunity to visit Washington. We visited Arlington Cemetery and the Lincoln Memorial. I felt so proud of being an American. I felt a sense of humility and appreciation for the sacrifices others have suffered for this country. The U.S. began with settlers who believed so strongly in something that they were willing to sacrifice their lives for it.
WHAT DO YOU PREFER AND WHY: PHONE OR E-MAIL?
In work, I prefer e-mail. It allows me to review the situation and gives me time to analyze and decide on a solution in a more effective manner. For personal, I am a very social person and I prefer to communicate by phone with my friends and family. I love to hear people laugh and know they are smiling.
Business Insurance's annual Women to Watch feature is our attempt to identify and recognize individuals doing exceptional work in risk management, benefits management, commercial insurance and related fields.