In the world of construction, which has historically been male dominated, it can be challenging for women entering the field to establish themselves and build a career.
For Dunkin’ Construction Manager Meagen Hendricks, she channeled her passion for construction and architecture, heeded the advice of her father, and stayed persistent to break the mold and become a leader in the industry.
“I remember growing up just wanting to leave my mark on the world, and the best way to do that is with construction and architecture,” said Meagen. “I’m so fascinated by the way things go together and what’s behind the skin so to speak.”
Determined to leave her mark, Meagen earned a master’s degree in architecture and began her career with a construction firm directly out of college. She knew the road ahead would be difficult at times, but she was up for the challenge.
“I think a lot of the challenges sometimes is the old-school thinking and working with men who have been in this field for 30, 40 years,” Meagen said. “But my dad always taught me, ‘You’re not going to change that kind of thinking unless you show people what you know.’ So, thankfully those situations are few and far between today, but when I do encounter them, I use it as sort of an opportunity for me to educate people that, ‘Hey, I’m different and you may not come across a lot of women or minorities in this field, but we’re here and there’s more of us coming and let me show you how we can contribute.’ And then in return, it’s a two-way street. That guy, who’s got 30, 40 years of experience, teaches me, tells me everything he knows, and I’ll really take it as an opportunity to learn, too.”
After several years with the construction firm, she began working with a general contractor.
Instead of working behind the screens and table, Meagen got first-hand experience with boots on the ground over the next decade. She worked on the project management side of the business, in construction estimating, and a variety of focus fields. She even was able to assist on a historical renovation of an old Indian meeting house belonging to her federally recognized Mashpee Wampanoag tribe.
“One of the first projects that I was able to work on early in my career was one of the oldest buildings in Mashpee, Mass., where the settlers first came,” said Meagen. “It was in such disrepair. I got to work with the historic district commission of Massachusetts and the tribe itself. We restored it back to its original glory, and that’s kind of been a legacy project for me.”
After about 15 years working across countless projects in the field, Meagen jumped at the opportunity to join Dunkin’s construction team in January 2020.
“I finished training just before the pandemic, was handed over projects and then Covid-19 shut down the country. For me, it was sort of a blessing in disguise. I had much more time to have conversations with our teams, chat on the phone with folks, and really be able to build relationships,” said Meagen. “I have never in my career worked with such an incredible team of people. And I’ve never had the support I do at Dunkin’ in any of the companies I’ve ever worked at. You know, some companies talk about it, but at Dunkin’ they really mean it with real support from teams and leadership.”
In this role, Meagen supports franchisees primarily in Rhode Island and parts of Massachusetts and eastern Connecticut.
“Every day is totally different depending on the project I’m working on,” said Meagen. “One day it could be working with the architects to make sure the layouts and elevations that we are designing on a remodel or a new build conforms to our latest prototype. Another day, I might be working with contractors and visit job sites to help work through construction issues that may come up. I also look at ways to expand assets for us by looking at new places where we could build new locations and do some administrative work, too.”
Now, as a leader in the industry, Meagen serves as the Vice President of the National Association of Women in Construction’s Rhode Island chapter.
“It’s a huge organization that is across the nation and works to empower women,” said Meagen. “We’re there to support, mentor, educate, and help facilitate relationships with others in the field. We’ve done a lot of work with volunteering, building houses for Habitat for Humanity, and getting more women into the field, trades, shadowing and such. Dunkin’ has been a huge supporter of this group, which is really women from all walks of life and backgrounds, whether they do construction, admin, are construction managers, project managers, or estimators. Obviously, our goal is to see many women out on these job sites in the future.”
To do that, Meagen has one piece of advice for women entering the field: be persistent.
“Really just be an advocate for yourself,” said Meagen. “If you feel strongly and passionately about something, you can do it. We have to be our own advocates and leverage our partners as well. There’s a lot of incredible men that I came across that were willing to teach and learn. And there’s no shame or reason not to leverage that and use that to your advantage as an opportunity to push yourself ahead.”
To learn more about job opportunities at Dunkin' and Baskin-Robbins, click here.