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Susie Parrish

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Susie Parrish
Safety Coordinator & Inaugural Chair of Women@WAM
Western Allied Mechanical (WAM)


Morgan Hill, CA

Years of Experience


Work for a cause, not for applause.
Live life to express, not to impress.
Don’t strive to make your presence noticed, just make your absence felt.

Why did you join WiOPS?
I love to be a sponge. I wanted to absorb all the knowledge I could from other’s experiences and learn about all the tips and tricks, skills, processes and roles within the Construction Industry and meet other like-minded women upon moving back to The Bay Area. We all come from different backgrounds, have different experiences, have different goals, have differing roles but we all want to learn more, build relationships and have a great time doing it. I’ve been a member of WiOPS for 2 years now, attending almost all events since and have made a lot of great connections within the group for both friends and work colleagues.

Do you have a personal or professional guiding principle that guides you? or a quote you live by?
“A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.” – James Keller
I took on the leadership role of our newly formed Women’s Group within Western Allied, Women@WAM, with the purpose of continuing to build a sustainable environment together for our current and future team members through building camaraderie, increasing confidence, enhancing trust and providing opportunities for women across all departments, whether that’s building skills, networking or leadership development. Even outside of work or the industry, building up others or providing genuine encouragement and support is never a bad thing. At the end of the day, we all have something to teach or learn from one another.

How did you get involved/started in construction/your role?
My grandfather started his own residential insulation business and eventually built custom homes in the Bay Area, including my childhood home built with my dad and older siblings in Coyote Valley area of Morgan Hill. My early childhood consisted of watching him work with his hands. However, from growing up enjoying the farm life, I decided to choose the Agriculture Industry until I came full circle to the Construction Industry two and a half years ago. I have experience in many different areas while I was trying to figure out my calling, but always with an Environmental, Health & Safety and Business Development focus, which has led me to be well rounded even in Construction because of how much crossover between industries there are. I have come to find out the Construction Industry has the same tight-knit family atmosphere than the Ag Industry, and both industries challenge you to adapt quickly when presented with any kind of change. The only difference is agriculture is seasonally changing with mother nature whereas the construction environment is constantly changing based on project phases, scope changes and further developments.

What is your favorite thing about construction?
Construction is one of the most dangerous industries one can be a part of and requires a copious amount of teamwork with a lot of moving pieces simultaneously. Safety is interweaved in every aspect of the business and there’s not one department I don’t get to interact with in some way or another. Construction allows me the opportunity to be a part of something bigger…and I get to help people by keeping them safe while doing it!

How do you feel about being a women in the industry?
I was 1 of 18 women in my entire department in college and both industries I’ve worked in has always significantly been male dominated, so for me, it’s not odd feeling to only be a part of the ~10% of women working in construction. With more women joining the industry every day, today’s the day more than ever to work toward combating stereotypical job titles.

I’m not your average “Safety Guy”. Hi, I’m “Safety Susie”!
It’s the 21st century where women can be the Safety Professional on the jobsite too. I’m on a mission to expel the presence of “The Safety Guy” title, to refer to the assumed male Safety Professional on the jobsite, from common industry vocabulary. I did not want to be labeled as “The Safety Lady” which sounds so old and impersonable, so instead I came up with a creative name that serves multiple purposes. I asked my employees to start calling me “Safety Susie”.  This checks the boxes of 1. You know what I do 2. You learn my name and 3. It’s always a good laugh and a conversation starter. As silly as it is, this has been helpful with creating camaraderie among my crews and again, everyone learned my name.

What is the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is helping my coworkers, trade partners and clients go home in the same, if not better, condition than when they arrived to work. I say better condition, because Mental Health, which includes our emotional, psychological and social well-being, is a crucial element to one’s safety. Mental Health affects how we think, feel and act, including how we relate to others and handling stress. Who wouldn’t want to be around people with positive attitudes, good moods, easy and effective communication and people who put forth effort to show they genuinely care about our well-being? It creates a better safety culture and a more enjoyable work environment that you want to return to each day.

What do you think are the advantages of being a woman in the industry?
We can’t argue with the fact that women bring a different perspective to the Construction Industry. Women have different body types and are built different than men. This requires current women in construction’s voices to be heard in order to contribute to updating historic construction processes and equipment allowing for the creativity and innovation of more inclusive technology, tools and processes for more future women in construction. I’m honored to have had my brain picked a few times about my ideal Personal Protective Equipment and other safety technology and excited to see all of the innovative startups in women’s PPE and more research and focus on ergonomics within the industry come to fruition over the last few years. Women can be good candidates for ergonomic research because we can lead by example to phase out the “tough guy” approach to lifting heavy items therefore, developing better technology leading to less improper lift injuries ultimately in both men and women.

What advice would you give a young woman entering the industry?
1. Construction is all about relationships, relationships, relationships! It’s important to build and maintain working relationships, respect and trust with everyone. Treat everyone the same, from the Pre-Apprentice to the Superintendent and from the Janitor to the President of the company. Instead of lumping crews together, build relationships with a focus on the individual by learning individual’s names, hobbies, favorite lunch spots by the jobsite, etc. Crew members are much more likely to want to work safer, report near misses, ask your advice, respect you, and be open to discuss any potential issues or hazards that might be present on the job if you maintain that relationship, open communication and trust because they don’t want to disappoint you. It goes both ways!

2. It would be wise to learn how to play golf. The majority of construction networking events revolve around golf tournaments where clients, vendors, trades, real estate managers, general contractors, subcontractors and union representatives get together to make connections and deals. My skill level stops at mini golf, but I’m an excellent golfcart driver.

3. Get involved! In addition to being a member in WiOPS NorCal I’m also:
-First ever Chair of Women@WAM
-Safety Instructor and WAM Camp Planning Committee Member for Western Allied’s Heavy Metal Summer Experience
-Communication Coordinator of American Society of Safety Professionals – San Francisco Chapter
-A member of Women in the Mechanical Industry (NorCal WiMI) Initiative by MCAA (Mechanical Contractors Association of America)
-A member of Women in Construction, a Bay Area SMACNA Mission Partner (Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association)


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Safety Coordinator & Inaugural Chair of Women@WAM
Western Allied Mechanical (WAM)
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