A high school counselor once told Susanne Hogan that her love of math would likely land her with a job either in a classroom or an eye doctor’s office. Instead, she is using her skills to build highways, construct buildings and facilitate projects as president of her own construction management company, dsi Associates: Direct, Strategic and Insightful.
Q. In short, what does your company do?
A. What we do is oversight. We see that things get done on time and on budget.
Q. How long has your company been headquartered in Burr Ridge?
A. We moved here six years ago from downtown. It makes it very convenient.
Q. As a woman in the construction industry, are you in the minority?
A. It’s not typical, but I think we just don’t credit women enough for having the skills is takes to run a business like this. It takes a lot of the same skills needed to run a household.
Q. When did you decide on this career path?
A. I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up. I started out in a work-study program in high school, working at Argonne National Laboratory. After high school I stayed working at Argonne. They offered to pay for my education. I got my undergraduate and master’s degrees from Northwestern.
Q. What did you study?
A. My graduate degree is in public administration, economics and finance. My undergrad is in statistics and quantitative methods. I think this business uses all of those areas.
Q. Have you seen more women enter the field?
A. It has not changed significantly over the last 20 years. I think we shortchange women. They have skill sets that are project management skill sets.
Q. What does it take to be good at what you do?
A. Organization and the ability to see the big picture. Typos jump out at me. It’s about seeing order. That is what I bring to a project.
Q. Are you hyper-organized in your private life?
A. No. But I can always find what I’m looking for. Life isn’t always orderly. I’m not Felix Unger, but I’m not Oscar Madison either.
Q. Who are some of your clients?
A. We do a lot of rail work for the CTA. We do work for IDOT, the tollway and the city of Chicago. We did the city’s State Street project. We have some private work, as well. But the larger projects are typically government agencies and municipalities. We’re in the process of being able to do federal government work.
Q. How many women do you employ?
A. Four of my nine employees are women, so almost half.
Q. What is your firm working on now?
A. A multimodal regional transportation center in Joliet with a 2016 target date. It poses tremendous coordination issues because it all has to be done without disrupting rail service. We start the widening of I-90 in October.
Q. What do you enjoy when you aren’t working?
A. My passions are dogs and horses. I rescue Irish water spaniels. It is a small, rare breed. I compete with them.