Liv Ehlert – International Women’s Day

Posted: March 8, 2021

How many years of experience do you have?

I began my career just over 20 years ago, which included working for various engineering and information technology consultants as a project controls specialist, administrator, coordinator in addition to various sales management and customer support roles. My journey with Williams Engineering started in February 2015, and I have been part of a project management team that is focused on establishing clear and achievable objectives while developing and delivering a comprehensible strategy that will enable project success and exceptional experience for our clients.

What did your career progression leading up to today look like?

A few years out of high school, working in retail and attending Social Science classes at a local college, I was trying to find my path. I desired a balance between customer service, sales and technical. At that time, my sister was working for a company that needed a replacement for an office manager/customer service – I had the interview and was hired that day.

My sister is an inspiration to me. She has worked for Novus, the company where I first started my career, for over 22 years! She started as a receptionist and is now the Director of Human Resources. Her perseverance and hard work inspired me then and still inspires me today to keep growing! Amazing!

I had strong mentors and leadership support who I could learn from and grow – they taught me how to lead, step outside of my comfort zone and boundaries with a “I can do it” attitude. That your team shining is a greater goal than your own – give them credit – let them shine, and you will shine! Working at smaller start-up companies was such a fantastic opportunity to work closely and collaborate side-by-side with everyone – the President, CEO, directors, managers – we spent our days working together and not in a hierarchy space was very empowering.

I would share that as a woman in these industries; I did have challenges. I didn’t walk through the door with receiving instant respect or appreciation for my capabilities, especially when it came to an understanding, for example, how to sell a technology (and understand it!), wire a data jack, or work beside and/or lead individuals with vast experience and perhaps a bit of a preconceived notion of who would be the right “fit.”  When I first walked through the doors, most of my teammates and leaders were very established, very technical, and experienced in their fields. From the initial engagement, I could see their first impression and actually, after we got to know each other, and they often shared with me that their initial thoughts were, “this is not the right position for her; she won’t get the technical work, she is too quiet and shy to be in this line of work, why did they hire her for this team?” and each time very shortly their impression changed and what teams we have built! I turned it into a personal challenge knowing that I would have to prove myself perhaps more than others, that I didn’t have a degree or designation, but what I did have was the experience and drive. I learned not to take the criticism personally but embrace it and be proud of each success.

Describe the 3 characteristics about yourself that you believe led you to your success in business.

  1. Organized / Detail Oriented
  2. Dependable
  3. Ambitious

How does your work positively impact women in Calgary and/or women of the world?

I hope that my experience story shows that women can make a difference and succeed in historically male-dominated industries. To step out of one’s comfort zone, take that leap, set high goals, respect everyone and never look back.

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