In Montreal, the construction industry is dominated by white, middle-aged, french-speaking males. Cherisse Vanloo is the antithesis of that… she’s a visible minority, young, English (as a first language)-speaking and female. But that has in no way stopped her from cutting a path through this testosterone laden field!
Of Vincentian parentage, Cherisse currently works as a project manager for Edifice Experts – an affiliate of Inspec-sol Inc.
“Every odd is stacked against me. I’m often regarded as being irrelevant or under-experienced,” she lamented.
But where there’s a will, there’s a way…
To combat the prejudice, Cherisse often works on site with a senior technician who ticks all the boxes of the traditional engineering/construction employee.
“School was easy in comparison. Engineering isn’t exactly basket weaving,” she joked. “But I was an over-achieving student.”
Raised in Montreal, Cherisse holds a degree in Architectural Technology from Vanier College, and Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees (Concordia University) in Building Engineering and Building Engineering specialising in Construction Management, respectively.
While at university she secured several scholarships, awarded by United Union Church, United Negro Improvement Association, Montreal Association for Black Business Professionals, and Magil Construction.
In August 2010 she obtained a full engineering licence from L’Ordre des Ingenieurs du Quebec (Order of Engineers of Quebec), which legally entitles her to call herself an engineer. Never one to rest on her laurels, Cherisse is now studying for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) accreditation as a Green Associate.
As a child, the 29-year-old wanted to be a veterinarian but was discouraged by the volume of material one of her older cousins would have to read – he was pursuing the same path. However, with a strong affinity for Math and Drawing, it was destined that she end up in the filed she is today.
And her sights are set on bigger and better things.. within the decade, Cherisse is determined to establish herself as a building scientist in Montreal.
“The market for our type of work is incredibly specific and small.”
Having recently joined the 5-strong work team at Edifice Experts, she explained: “I hope to grow with the company, and potentially relocate my talents in another Candian city in future.”
Her advice for those hoping to follow a similar career path?
“Exercise discipline in order to remain focused, and learn to balance your personal and educational lives.
“Avoid self doubt when times get tough – overcoming obstacles is more gratifying in the long term than to succumb to defeat in the short term.”
Cherisse strongly encourages women to pursue careers in technical sciences (Physics, Math etc).
“There are absolutely NO limits to our abilities. By achieving and climbing the ladder, you do well for yourself, and for the next generation who are making their way up the ladder behind you.”
- when it comes to movies, her favourite genres are comedy and horror
- soca is her favourite type of music. Also like hip hop, rap and RnB
- mainly reads educational books. Last book read was ‘In Defense of Food’ by Michael Pollan
- favourite food is salt-fish and roasted breadfruit
- privately tutors students in Math
- burns off excess energy at the gym doing cardio, yoga and free weights.
Below is a short video of Cherisse at work. Disclaimer: there is mild profanity, so watch at your own discretion!
Vodpod videos no longer available.