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Kari Yuers, president and CEO of Kryton Group, suggests women join industry associations.

Every newcomer is a little nervous at his first association meeting. “Get over the shyness,” says Kari Yuers, president and CEO of Kryton Group of companies, Vancouver, British Columbia. “Don't let the anxiety get to you. If you don't like it, you don't have to go back.”

Each time you go to an association meeting, it gets a little easier, says Yuers, who was recently elected to the American Concrete Institute's (ACI) board of directors. She's had many first-time experiences, having been involved in many ACI committees, in addition other professional and leadership associations. She knows what it's like to be one of the only women and to not know anyone.

Yuers was convinced to join ACI years ago when she was meeting with colleagues about some technical literature. They suggested she attend the next ACI convention and led her to the committees that would be the most helpful. Through their assistance, she met more people and became comfortable interacting. Which brings her back to her point that everyone is nervous at first.

Being active in associations, whether they are concrete-related or not, teaches skills that you can transfer into your job, says Yuers. Industry associations will help you become more educated in your field, while other groups may provide you with expertise in business or other areas.

Yuers also is active in a local small business association. Kryton was once a small business, so she'd like to give back the knowledge she learned along the way to other small companies. As she gives back, she continues to learn more.

Mentor and be mentored

There is constant mentoring in Yuers' life: Her father, fellow CEOs, and a personal coach mentor her. She is mentoring newcomers to the concrete industry and small businesses.

It sends a message: We all need the advice of those who have more experience. There is nothing wrong with being new or inexperienced. Joining associations is a great way to find mentors or people to mentor.

“I'm fortunate because these days, I'm involved in every aspect of the business,” says Yuers. But what she finds most exciting in her work is choosing and mentoring intelligent, young people. Yuers is a big believer in hiring talented people outside the industry, training them, and using their talents to help them and Kryton grow. “You would be surprised, if you get bright people, how fast they learn and are respected,” she says.

Yuers is fortunate that one of her mentors, her father, is a strong supporter of women. He believes women have an innate intuitiveness and that they should follow their gut instincts, rather than ignoring that “little voice.” Her father included his wife when meeting business associates and he sought her opinion. He has encouraged his daughter to recognize her own strengths.

With the ACI Fall Convention in Puerto Rico approaching, Yuers encourages women to visit the Women in ACI Reception on Oct. 15. The casual reception, which has grown over the years, is an ideal place to meet other women in the industry.

On Jan. 23, the Women in Concrete Forum at the World of Concrete in Las Vegas is another opportunity for women to interact and to learn more about the industry.

“Women in Concrete” brings you stories about women who are making a difference in the concrete industry. Each month we will bring you profiles, studies, or surveys to show you the latest on women in the concrete industry Send comments or ideas to Kari Moosmann atkmoosmann@hanleywood.com.