Women in Construction Interview - Nicole Darling

Nicole Darling
Senior Design Project Manager
Cambridge Companies | Scottsdale, AZ

“As I became a parent, I learned that everyone is going to have their own individual experiences and journeys. What works for one is not necessarily going to work for another. Gather as much knowledge as you can – extract what is going to work for you and your situation.”

As a Senior Design Project Manager and Licensed Architect, Nicole coordinates the design process for Design-build projects at Cambridge Companies. She works with the architecture and engineering teams, construction teams, and client to establish initial project parameters and objectives and then executes those goals in the completion of the design documents and final building construction.

Prior to Cambridge, Nicole worked as a Project Architect for a traditional architecture top 100 Design Firm and as an Associate Director of Architecture for the Southwest Region for a top 10 ENR Design-Build Company.

Darling Moniker: D-dependable, A-awesome, R-responsible, L-loyal, I-intelligent, N-nice, G-goofy


She brings more than 16 years of statewide experience in economic development to her role at Land Advisors Organization. She was the executive director of the Arizona State University Research Park, where she worked on real estate development and business attraction. She also served eight years in State Government at the Arizona Department of Commerce as director of small business development and director of national business development. There, working with local municipalities, she assisted corporate entities in their site location decisions statewide.

Michele is a certified economic developer and a licensed real estate associate. She is a member of the Arizona Association of School Business Officials, and a board member of WESTMARC and Valley Partnership.

Michele holds a master’s degree in international management from the Thunderbird School of Global Management, and undergraduate degrees from the University of Arizona: a B.A. in Russian/political science and a B.S. in business

Question: Tell us a little bit about your current role and the career path that led to it.
I was hooked. From the first day I built my dollhouse with my dad, who is an engineer, I was destined to do something in design. As an aspiring young architect, I was mesmerized with big buildings. Growing up, we were very hands on with construction during the remodel of our house and my mother’s retail stores.

I was entrusted with responsibility and accountability at a young age and credit my parents for my fun-loving, work hard – play hard mentality. I am a bit of a self-proclaimed nerd and don’t shy away from the technical intricacies of a project. I am also a Jimmy Buffet Parrothead and a die-hard Florida Gator!

I am a mom and a team mom and in some small way all of these skills have come together to afford me great success in the continual development of my architectural career.


Question: What conferences, books, blogs, podcasts, or influencers would you recommend to women?

I read the code book. I don’t recommend it. 😊


Question: What is one characteristic that you believe every woman in construction should possess?

Know your stuff! When they realize you know what you are talking about, your street cred instantly rises.


Question: What message do you have for other young women interested in following in your footsteps?

Work hard, be smart, ask questions to trusted advisors, always be confident to your clients even when you don’t know the answer, and then go find it.  Follow through!


Question: What was your favorite job and what did you learn from it?

This is going to sound cliché, but I really love all my projects. A few notable/cool projects include a manufacturing building for submarines, an e-fulfillment building with four stories of shoes, and my first recycling center – Talk about a learning experience!


Question: What is the most important lesson you have learned in your career thus far; how did you learn from it?

I don’t know if it’s a specific learned-lesson but, I feel knowing your personal style and using it to the best of your advantage will help you in any situation. If you are outgoing and silly, like I am, then use it. If you are quiet and process things internally, then work with it.