Brittany Martin

Managing Chaos: The Vital Skills Brittany Martin Used to Break into Construction

The senior project manager exudes resiliency, a skill she learned growing up in a single-parent household—and one she says is paramount for women in construction

Brittany Martin knows how to move forward, a skill paramount in an industry—construction—that demands resilience. “I’m good at compartmentalizing,” she said, “which is useful in construction since issues and problems are constantly arising, and ruminating on them slows down the process.”

Martin, an only child of a single parent, credits her mother for her ability to compartmentalize during challenging moments and move forward.

It is this sort of skill that helps with the regular problem-solving that Martin deals with in her position as a senior project manager for Impetus, a 10-year-old construction services company based in New Orleans, which specializes in historic, hospitality, housing, health care and infrastructure projects.

“It lends itself to the industry where we face challenges every day regarding people, material and constructability,” Martin said. “We need to be able to look at a problem, come up with a solution and be ready to move on.”

Martin’s desire to learn and grow was evident during her school days. While growing up in Kenner, Louisiana, a suburb of New Orleans, Martin attended an all-girls Catholic school. A self-described nerd, Martin enjoyed academic games and competed in grammar competitions.

Traveling the world

As a child, Martin gained a love of traveling through trips with her mother. The passion remains, and Martin’s most recent trip was to Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. She and her sister-in-law climbed to the peak of the mountain, the tallest in Africa at more than 19,000 feet.

After graduating with a degree in construction management from Louisiana State University, Martin was looking to feed her traveling bug. A year before graduation, she and a friend traveled throughout Egypt. While there, they met fellow travelers from New Zealand. Martin kept in touch with the New Zealanders and headed to the island country upon graduating.

 “When I got back to New Zealand, I realized I didn’t have a resume,” Martin said. “I emailed my mom, and she created one for me.” Martin went to a headhunter and quickly got a job.

Settling down

Three years later, Martin returned to Louisiana. “I didn’t plan on staying in the area,” Martin said. Instead, she was thinking about the West Coast or Austin, Texas. Then, a college friend reached out about a job rebuilding a hospital that had been destroyed a few years earlier due to Hurricane Katrina.

Martin took the job and stayed with the company for three years. During that time, she met her husband, also from Louisiana, and the couple stayed in the area.

Martin then moved to a different construction company, The McDonnel Group, where she stayed for five years. Shortly thereafter, Martin landed her current role at Impetus.

The first time Impetus came for Martin, however, she said no. “I was seven months pregnant with my second daughter and was not looking for a change,” Martin said. However, she was intrigued and accepted a position when the company reached out a second time.

The renegade

Four years into her tenure at Impetus, Martin has fully adapted to its culture. The company, which bills itself as a “team of renegades,” prides itself on thinking outside the box.

These days, Martin’s leading a complex construction process to repurpose the former Louisiana Children’s Museum building in the New Orleans Warehouse Arts District into a luxury urban mixed-use destination. Martin feels close to the project because she visited the museum as a child.

“Because of project size, I’m on-site full time, which I love,” Martin said. “I walk the site daily, get to know it and breathe it.” She manages her team to ensure the project is progressing as intended. Martin also collaborates with the superintendent and is problem-solving constantly.

Issues arise daily that demand solutions. Martin presses ahead with a purpose. “If you can’t compartmentalize issues and quickly put them behind you, you’ll miss an opportunity to correct the issue in the field,” Martin said.

Plans change

Martin initially majored in architecture at LSU. While one of her professors advised her to stay in the major only if she really wanted it, a close friend suggested she switch to construction.

Martin was one of just 12 women in the major in her graduating class, and is the only one who remains in the field. She’s been thinking a lot lately about why the field has so few women.

Martin would like to see more women and greater diversity in the industry since she values different perspectives. “I’m passionate about women in construction,” Martin said. She suggests young women who enter the field “speak up, because no one will do it for you, and be prepared to get what you ask for.” 

Read more inspiring stories about women making a difference in the industry.