May 22, 2024
Building Success

Photo: Skanska/Jim Carchidi

"It's so rewarding to be able to see the way an idea comes to fruition and the way the built environment has such a transformative impact on communities and the way people experience their lives and the memories they make," says Mandy Weitknecht.

Rising Executives: Ones to Watch

Building Success

Mike Brassfield | 12/12/2023

MANDY WEITKNECHT
Vice President, Business Development,
Skanska, Orlando

What’s the single biggest challenge facing the construction industry right now? Mandy Weitknecht knows the answer: a serious shortage of skilled workers.

“With the boom in construction and the continual growth, we haven’t seen that slow down over the past few years. We’re seeing such a strain on the qualified labor market, especially with subcontractors,” Weitknecht says. “They’re strapped for workers. They can only handle so many jobs at a time.”

And a lack of experienced workers puts another strain on construction companies: The need to keep inexperienced workers safe.

“If someone shows up on your job site who’s never been on a construction job before, you have to make sure you’ve got the right supervision and that you’re training them and keeping them safe at the end of the day,” she says.

Weitknecht would know. She has risen to become one of the top Florida executives for Skanska, the international construction giant that’s behind a roster of high-profile construction projects around the state.

Weitknecht (pronounced “white neck”) is vice president of business development for Skanska in Florida. The company is one of the largest construction and development firms in the state, and Weitknecht’s role is a big job with a wide scope.

“I try to really understand what’s going on in terms of development, and from there I look for trends in the market,” she says. “I build relationships within the communities where we work, and develop strategies to help grow the business and our people.”

She’s also responsible for talent attraction and retention efforts and guiding new hires in their career development.

Construction remains one of the most male-dominated industries, with women making up only 11% of the workforce. It’s in this environment that Weitknecht has thrived, becoming one of the only women in a leadership position in Skanska’s Florida division. She’s committed to growing the Florida chapter of Skanska Women’s Network, which strives to help women break the industry’s glass ceiling.

She can point to recent Skanska construction projects all over Florida that make her particularly proud:

  • The Sound at Coachman Park, a 9,000-capacity covered outdoor concert venue on the waterfront in downtown Clearwater. “It’s such a cool space. Now to see the way it brings the community together — it was a great piece of real estate before, but now this has made it an asset that people can enjoy.”
  • The Orlando Health Jewett Orthopedic Institute Hospital in downtown Orlando, the first dedicated orthopedic hospital in the state. “It’s a really unique facility, and I think it’s going to be a changemaker in the industry.”
  • Two projects at the University of Miami, including the new Frost Institute of Chemistry and Molecular Science, and the Knight Center for Music Innovation, which features a 200-seat recital hall with state-of-the-art acoustics. “It’s absolutely beautiful. It’s breathtaking.”

Other recent Skanska projects of note include the construction of the new St. Petersburg Pier and the Applied Research Center at Florida Polytechnic University, as well as the renovation and expansion of the Tampa Convention Center, the University of South Florida’s Research Park and Lee Health’s Gulf Coast Medical Center in Fort Myers.

“It’s so rewarding to be able to see the way an idea comes to fruition and the way the built environment has such a transformative impact on communities and the way people experience their lives and the memories they make,” she says.

A native Floridian, Weitknecht came to the industry in a roundabout way. “If you had asked me when I was in college if I would end up in construction, I would have laughed and said ‘no way,’” she said. “But having been in architectural engineering and construction for so long, I’ve really fallen in love with it.”

After graduating from the University of Central Florida, she was working at a dietary supplement startup and studying to earn her MBA when she got recruited by the Cumming Corp., a project management firm that focuses on architecture and construction.

Next she worked in business development for eight years at HOK, a global architecture and design firm. In that role, she interacted with quite a few employees of Skanska, and she found herself impressed by them. “I just felt like they were top notch and there was so much I could learn from working alongside them,” she recalled.

That led her to join Skanska five years ago. Moving from project management to architecture to construction has given her a comprehensive view of the building industry. “It’s been really interesting seeing the industry from different vantage points, and understanding the different pieces and parts and how it all works together and just how dynamic it is,” she says.

With statewide responsibilities, her home office is in Orlando but she spends plenty of time on the road. She lives with her husband and two sons on a plot of land in the countryside near the ChampionsGate development in Polk County, along Interstate 4 between Orlando and Tampa.

“I’m a Polk County native. I was born and raised Floridian. This is home,” she says. “I feel blessed to be able to raise my boys here — to be able to raise them the way I was raised.” 

Tags: Real Estate, Feature, Rising Executives

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