She’s not the one climbing ladders, but Ceilidh Houston is responsible for ensuring you have a good roof over your head.
As project coordinator at Transcona Roofing, Houston plans, organizes, leads and manages roofing projects from start to finish. A graduate of Red River College’s Civil Engineering Technology program, Houston was hired on at Transcona Roofing in May 2016 after completing both of her six-month work placements there.
“I’m responsible for quality, safety and profit,” she explains. “Basically, I’m in charge of coordinating with my foreman and our crews, in charge of coordinating with suppliers to ensure that I have everything I need, and in charge of coordinating with contractors, making sure I’m abiding by specifications and contracts.
“I’m monitoring the scope of a project to make sure that nothing outside the scope is being thrown in without getting paid for.”
After completing the first year of Civil Engineering Technology, Houston chose to specialize in the Structural Engineering Technology stream of the program. Perhaps it’s not an obvious match, but Houston says her education does apply to her employment.
“A lot of the design [instruction] I don’t use because I’m a subtrade, but learning how drawings, specs and contracts work, that’s huge for my job,” Houston says. “Also, I feel like what I learned most at Red River was the confidence to know what I’m doing and to know that I’m doing it correctly, so that when I walk into a trailer of 50 guys looking at me for an answer, I’m confident I can do the job.”
Although it’s not top of her mind, Houston admits that confidence comes in quite handy when you’re a woman in a male-dominated industry.
“I try not to think about it because I chose to go into this and I don’t want to be that person that says, ‘Woe is me, I’m a woman.’ But, I do think that I do have to exude a higher level of confidence in what I’m talking about than some of my coworkers, just to make sure that people understand I legitimately know what I’m talking about,” Houston says.
“I do put in a lot of effort to actually learn the technical side of roofing and cladding so that I can intelligently make decisions on the spot.”
Houston says the supportive atmosphere at Transcona Roofing stokes her already strong desire to succeed.
“I’m competitive and I like knowing that I’m doing a good job,” Houston says. “I spend an awful lot of my life working, but the people that I work with are amazing. It’s just a great team that the owner of the company has built. It’s like a family.
“I really enjoy the work. I enjoy learning about the technical aspects and seeing myself get better at something just feels really rewarding. Being able to walk into a meeting with the owner of the company and say ‘I accomplished these goals for you this month,’ just feels really good.”
Houston has considered pursuing her engineering degree, but says she’s currently quite content to be working in the industry.
“I think that some people have a stigma about college as opposed to university, but more and more you’re seeing so many people coming out of college prepared to do a really good job,” she says.
“I think there needs to be more awareness about that. There is something to be said about having a degree, and maybe one day I’ll get my engineering degree, but I feel like I made the right choice off the bat when I decided to go with Red River College over university.”
— Profile by Jared Story (Creative Communications, 2005)