In an industry where only one in ten workers is a woman, Robin Leising, Construction Administrator for Schmidt Associates, shines. Whether it is her quick wit, her strong confidence, or her amicable personality, Robin fits right in on the job site and is well respected.
Tell me about your background.
Growing up in Elkhart, I remember my dad bringing home a set of blueprints one night. That started me down my path, and I have never looked back. I attended Ball State University for architecture, but realized that I enjoy helping a building come up from the ground, not just drawing it. Unfortunately, there was not construction management degree back then, so I finished my degree in environmental sciences and moved to Vegas to work in drafting for a developer.
What brought you back to Indiana?
As I sat in Vegas, I remembered a former roommate asking me if I really wanted to be in Vegas on my own or back in Indiana with my boyfriend, Joe. Turns out, I wanted Joe. I moved home and started work for a mechanical contractor. Joe and I eventually got married and have two kids, Olin (18) and Sydney (16).
How did you land at Schmidt Associates?
Well, I was delivering a bid on a project for the mechanical contractor I was working for at the time. When the elevator opened, I came upon a friend I had known from the College of Architecture and Planning (CAP) from Ball State—Anna Marie Burrell (K-12 Studio Leader at Schmidt Associates). She invited me to play sand volleyball with her, and we became good friends. Eventually, I ended up working with her at another firm. We both left and joined Schmidt Associates around the same time.
What’s it like, doing a “man’s job”?
I like my job and I like being out in the field. But I find people in the construction industry try to put me on a different level because I am a woman—they treat me differently somehow. But the truth is, I will tell you if I don’t like something. I am no different than any of the men out there.
What’s one thing not everyone knows about you?
While I was at Ball State, my dorm sponsored a date auction. One of my male friends was one of the prizes, and I thought he was kind of cute. So, I bought him and we went to Fazoli’s and a Wynonna Judd concert. We are still married over 20 years later.
And you have another story to tell …
Yes, I am a walking survivor story for Breast Cancer and an advocate for annual screenings. I was diagnosed with Stage 1 in September, 2014 at the age of 44. They did a lumpectomy and 30 days of radiation. Thankfully, I am cancer free now, though I still go yearly to ensure no new spots appear. My mother is also a survivor, but I have two grandmothers and an aunt who passed away from it.
What do you do in your free time?
My kids are very busy, so I am typically at a soccer game with Olin or ballet practice with Sydney. But when I am not doing that, I enjoy watching all sports (even golf!), as well as going to the movies. I also volunteer at my church.
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