Future CRE leaders: Morgan Seopa with Kraus-Anderson Construction
Morgan Seopa, a project engineer with Kraus-Anderson Construction in Minneapolis, already plays a key role in one of the Twin Cities area’s busiest construction companies. And she does it despite only graduating from high school less than three years ago.
What explains the early success of Seopa and why is the construction sector so natural? Here’s a look at why Seopa chose a career in construction, what she loves about the industry, and the steps she’s taken to thrive in this career.
Tell us about your background. Where did you grow up and where did you go to school?
I grew up on a lake in northern Minnesota in a little area called Side Lake, about 20 miles north of Hibbing. I still live there now. I graduated from Hibbing High School in 2018 and graduated from Bemidji State University in December 2021 with a degree in Project Management with a focus on construction and facility management.
How did you get started in the industry?
As my high school education was coming to an end, I knew I wanted to be part of the building process, but I didn’t know where to place myself. Then I learned project management. I spent my early years of high school at Hibbing Community College, where I graduated with an Associate of Arts degree in May 2018, a month before graduating from high school. With two years of college under my belt at the age of 18 and not having a clear idea of what exactly I wanted to do, I decided to take a year off. During this time, I went to Guatemala to volunteer in manual construction and renovation work in a village near Antigua. This experience confirmed that I wanted to continue in the field of construction, but that I did not want to be the one with the hammer in my hand. Back home, I applied to Bemidji State University to complete my degree in Project Management.
Did you have a mentor who helped you get on your feet, or is there someone you turn to now for help?
My family and friends have always been my biggest supporters. To say I’m lucky is an understatement. At work, my mentor is Senior Project Manager Patrick Gallagher. He believed in me from the start and continues to push me out of my comfort zone, making me achieve things I never thought possible. Additionally, the entire Kraus-Anderson Duluth team – including all Project Managers, Project Coordinators and Superintendents – has always been there to help and support me at every stage of my career.
What does an average working day look like?
Today, I am a project engineer working in northern Minnesota on Rock Ridge Public School District projects including Rock Ridge Career Academy High School, Laurentian Elementary, North Star Elementary, and existing demolition projects in the district. I had the chance to spend most of my time on construction sites. Most of my days are filled with working in coordination with my team and our subcontractors. As a project engineer, I enjoy the variety of work on site. One day, I may spend time reviewing project plans and coordinating them with contractors; and the next day I may be in my office contacting contractors about their bids they submitted for a specific project. I also had the opportunity to work with the Rock Ridge Public School District Career Mentoring Program which serves students in all career fields by connecting entrepreneurs with students. It was a rewarding experience exposing the students to the various trades and careers available in the construction industry.
What do you like most about your job?
Along with the variety of responsibilities, part of the reason this career keeps me so engaged and makes my job enjoyable is because every day is different. There is never a dull day in this industry. Whatever the task, we work towards the same goal every day: a successful project and a happy owner. But what I love most about my job is helping communities grow and improve with every project we do. I have the chance to work on projects on the Iron Range, which is the corner of the world where I grew up and of which I am proud. And the team I work with is the icing on the cake. They are an exceptional group of professionals who create a welcoming place to start my career and an ideal place to develop my career. I think that says a lot about the Kraus-Anderson culture.
Looking to the future, what do you hope to achieve/work on that you haven’t already done?
I have really enjoyed working in the K-12 sector and look forward to gaining additional experience in other building sectors which will help me be a versatile asset to my business. . My main goal is to continue to learn and grow as a woman in the construction industry, while building relationships along the way. This is just the beginning and I can’t wait to see where this career path will take me.
How do you spend your time away from the office?
My time away from the office is mostly spent enjoying the outdoors with my 1.5 year old son and my boyfriend, as well as my family and friends. We love to hunt, fish, and ride our snowmobiles and side-by-sides, and spend days on the lake. We are fortunate to live in an area where we can enjoy all that Minnesota has to offer.