Alana Konefal, AIA
Associate Principal

Driven and highly organized, Associate Principal Alana Konefal, AIA, is a skilled architect who excels at leading large-scale projects. Since joining the firm, Alana has worked extensively in education, biotech, and workplace projects. In addition to her project responsibilities, Alana collaborates on firm operations and project workflow. She currently serves as president for the Connecticut Building Congress and was honored to receive AIA CT’s Emerging Architect Award in 2018.


Question: What led you to a career in the construction industry?

I was in middle school when I decided this would be my career path. I had always liked math and art, and both of my grandfathers and father were relatively handy, so it all just came together.

I interned at Svigals+Partners during my last year of college and then joined the team full-time upon graduation.

We’re very collaborative here, so from the beginning I was able to work on all types of projects. About five years into my career, I was working on a school project when our project manager at the time went out on medical leave, and I got to step into the void. Naturally, that path helped me grow into a project management role.

Today, part of my leadership role here is to ensure that our teams are set up to succeed. This includes making sure that all of our project managers have the right tools and more importantly, the team to support them. Staffing strategies are challenging, as there are so many factors to consider, but this responsibility is one that I take great pride in.

Question: How has the context of being a woman in the industry changed since you started your career?

That topic throws me a bit, which I think is a positive. When I was looking at colleges Roger Williams and Wentworth, the latter was more technically driven with a heavier male-to-female ratio. That was not case at Roger Williams and is not at Svigals.

I don’t really think of the gender issue when I’m on job sites, as I haven’t personally encountered any gender-issues, or times when I felt insecure in this context. That being said, a few years back, I went to a conference on women in architecture and what I heard there about other women’s experiences was eye-opening to me. I hadn’t experienced the challenges they had, but it was evident these issues existed in their lives. Reflecting on this now and thinking about the construction sites where the imbalance is more evident, through the years I have seen more women project managers and a few sub-contractors, so hopefully, the gender issue is becoming more of a non-event.

How do you leverage your position to help recruit and retain more women in the industry?

I’ve been involved with ACE mentoring in the past and here at Svigals, we’ve always focused on mentoring. We reevaluated our mentoring program about a year ago to reframe how we think about our development. Since growth is not always about mentoring, and mentoring is not always one directional, we realized we just needed a vehicle to help one another realize our strengths and potential, and to share our goals with. So, we assigned everyone an accountability partner to discuss growth, its proven successful thus far.

As for leveraging my experiences to share with others, I got involved with the Connecticut Building Congress several years ago and am currently president of the organization. Among many of our initiatives, we’ve made a push to get more diversity and equity among all aspects of the organization.

What improvements can the industry make to help women succeed in the AEC industry?

What’s helped me get to where I am is confidence. That was the real turning point for me. It happened the same year that I was dropped into my project manager role. I was on the way to a client presentation with my boss, and as we were driving there, he asked what I would say if I were presenting. So, I did the presentation for him in the car, and he said, you did great, you’re doing the presentation.

That was a real turning point for me and gave me the confidence to step into any new experience without fear.

How do we as women get that confidence?

Put yourself in those tough situations and really push yourself. Find out what you’re passionate about and where you really shine. Encourage your leaders to give everyone the opportunity to try something new and find out what your true potential is.

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