Navigating Success: The Leadership Journey of Carol Warkoczewski

The 10 Most Influential Businesswomen Leading the Change in 2024

Success, a multifaceted and individualized journey, takes on various forms for each leader. As we delve into the distinguished career of Carol Warkoczewski, a seasoned architect, project manager, and visionary boasting over 40 years of professional experience, we uncover not just a destination but a narrative of resilience, adaptability, and creativity. In this exclusive interview, we explore Carol’s distinctive perspective on success, her influential role as the CEO of the Institute for Leadership in Capital Projects (I-LinCP), and the remarkable trajectory she has charted in the design and construction industry.

Defining Success: A Personal Odyssey

For Carol, success is more than the mere accomplishment of set goals; it embodies a holistic journey. Whether navigating a solo venture, orchestrating a collaborative group effort, or delegating tasks, success, in her view, hinges on the completion of tasks and objectives, and her over-all positive impact on the design and construction industry. She accentuates the winding and unpredictable nature of the path from point A to B, emphasizing the need for resilience and flexibility.

“Maintaining unwavering focus on the ultimate goal, is the linchpin for navigating through unexpected challenges. My philosophy for success demands not just problem-solving skills but creative adaptability, rendering the ability to pivot and recalibrate strategies as essential strategies,” says Carol.

Practice making lemonade out of lemons and you will always be successful!

I-LinCP: Connecting Industry Divisions for Sustainable Growth

A crucial juncture in Carol’s professional journey is marked by her pivotal role as the Founder, Chief Vision Officer, and CEO of I-LinCP. Formally established in 2010, the mission of this nonprofit organization is to transform the design and construction industry by improving collaboration, breaking down communication silos, and building trust between all project stakeholders. As construction stands as a significant contributor to the U.S. GDP, Carol underscores the prevalent inefficiencies and wastage in the industry, primarily attributed to lack of trust resulting in communication breakdowns.

“Communication silos manifest due to conflicting interests among the three key project parties: project owners, designers (architects and engineers), and contractors,” states Carol.

“These silos, can also emerge within these parties, leading to a lack of collaboration and trust. It is this lack of alignment that becomes a primary impediment to construction project efficiency and overall success. I-LinCP positions itself as a catalyst for change, aiming to build bridges between these silos at an industry level,” she further explains.

Project Partnering Workshops: Fostering Open Collaboration

The core of I-LinCP’s mission is based on the concept of Project Partnering workshops. Carol started conducting Project Partnering workshops in 2005, through her for-profit company, Synergy Builders Consulting, LLC. Carol’s passion and commitment to breaking down silos and enhancing trust between project constituents are evident in these workshops, which have yielded transformative results.

In these workshops, an intentional atmosphere of openness and collaboration prevails. Attendees, representing diverse facets of the industry, share their knowledge, lessons learned, and team expectations, values and goals. The overarching objective is to dissolve silos, foster mutual understanding, and cultivate shared interests. It’s through this sharing of information and experiences that trust, and communication improve, subsequently reducing waste in time and fiscal resources while elevating leadership and sustainability in capital projects.

The success of her Project Partnering workshops inspired Carol to extend the impact beyond individual projects to influence the industry at large, leading to the initial Leadership in Capital Projects Forums in 2009, and the forming of the Institute in 2010.

I-LinCP’s Offerings: A Comprehensive Approach

I-LinCP’s portfolio of offerings reflects its commitment to driving positive change in the industry. The organization facilitates various forums and programs, including the Invest in Women Forum, Texas Public Owners’ Forum, Lone Star Sustainability Forum, webinars, chapter luncheon programs, and Circles of Excellence projects. Each initiative is strategically designed to address specific challenges within the industry, promoting collaboration, knowledge sharing, and sustainable practices.

Beyond education for the betterment of capital projects, attending I-LinCP’s programs helps provide a platform for professionals to connect on a personal level through their forums, educational programs, project tours, and networking events.

Operations at I-LinCP: Leadership in Action

As the CEO of I-LinCP, Carol’s operational responsibilities extend to reporting to the Board of Directors. Steering the organization’s course alongside an Executive Director and a Membership and Communications Director, Carol ensures alignment with the Board’s directives. A crucial aspect of I-LinCP’s operational structure involves the active involvement of volunteers who lead its four Texas chapters – Austin, Houston, North Texas, and San Antonio.

Volunteers play a pivotal role as the organization operates as a nonprofit and relies on their dedicated efforts. In her role, Carol emphasizes the significance of equipping volunteers with the necessary resources to achieve organizational outcomes. Whether it’s technological support, effective communication tools, leadership and soft skills development, or financial resources, she ensures that the volunteers have the necessary elements for success.

Leadership Journey: A Trailblazer’s Perspective

Carol’s initial journey into nonprofit leadership was characterized by a “fake it ’til you make it” approach. With no direct experience in running a nonprofit organization initially, she leaned on a clear vision for the purpose of I-LinCP and attracting people who shared her vision. Her commitment to breaking down silos and fostering collaboration in the industry served as the foundation, and I-LinCP emerged as a unique nonprofit organization focused on directly improving industry collaboration, trust, and project outcomes.

The roadblocks encountered along the way were met with persistence and a commitment to the chosen path. Carol’s initiation into the realm of executing her vision involved discussions with a general contractor friend about the idea of bringing together architects, engineers, contractors, and project owners for candid conversations. The success of the very first Leadership in Collaboration (LinCP) Forum in 2009 paved the way for subsequent expansion and the formal establishment of I-LinCP as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in January 2010.

Focus on progress instead of perfection and you will bring more fulfillment to your life.

Thriving as a Woman in Leadership: A Personal Reflection

Thriving in an industry historically dominated by men, Carol reflects on the challenges faced by women in design and construction. The industry’s gender dynamics, she notes, have undergone positive shifts since the ’70s. Initially marked by a scarcity of women in architecture and engineering classes, today’s landscape showcases parity in architecture, albeit with fewer women in engineering and even fewer in construction sciences.

While the industry remains male-dominated, Carol observes a growing recognition by employers of the need to attract all people to the industry. However, she acknowledges that certain perceptions linger, with some individuals still harboring reservations about women in leadership roles or on construction sites. Despite these challenges, Carol views the industry’s vast labor market as an opportunity for women, emphasizing that employers increasingly appreciate the value of diversity, especially with the need for ever more people to produce the built environment needed for society.

A staunch advocate for women in the industry, Carol emphasizes that a fulfilling career in design or construction doesn’t necessitate a four-year higher education degree. She encourages aspiring professionals to explore two-year degree programs coupled with apprenticeships or on-the-job training. The industry’s demand for diverse skills and the willingness of employers to provide training in various construction trades present promising opportunities for women.

I-LinCP actively contributes to supporting women and the next generation through annual scholarships for students in architecture, interior design, engineering, and construction sciences. The organization fosters connections between young individuals and experienced professionals, providing mentorship and networking opportunities. Special events, such as the “Invest in Women Forum,” serve as platforms for women to develop their potential and network in a supportive atmosphere. Importantly, men are invited to participate in these events, promoting cross-gender appreciation and support.

Vision and Future Plans: Expanding Horizons

As Carol envisions the future of I-LinCP, her focus extends beyond the borders of Texas. The organization’s relevance to the broader success of the nation propels her ambition to broaden its impact. The experiences and insights shared during I-LinCP events, Carol believes, can create ripples that touch everyone as individuals meet both professionally and personally. Amidst a competitive landscape, Carol doesn’t fret about competition, as she firmly believes in I-LinCP’s unique position within the nonprofit and association sphere. The organization’s distinctive programs, approach, mission, and commitment to collaboration set it apart.

Life Before I-LinCP: A Journey of Ups and Downs

Before establishing I-LinCP, Carol’s career path was characterized by diverse experiences. From working within private-practice architectural firms to roles at the University of Texas System-Facilities Planning and Construction and the City of San Antonio as City Architect, her journey unfolded with its share of ups and downs. Venturing beyond traditional architectural firms, she pursued a master’s degree and founded Synergy Builders Consulting, LLC, focusing on leadership development, project partnering facilitation, and team dynamics coaching. The idea of I-LinCP germinated during discussions with a general contractor friend, eventually materializing into the Leadership in Collaboration (LinCP) Forum in 2009.

You will enjoy a fulfilling career and life when you choose to align your choices with your personal values.

A Day in Carol’s Life: Balancing Work and Personal Pursuits

Navigating the responsibilities as the CEO of I-LinCP, a typical day in Carol’s life involves a myriad of activities. Email correspondence, Zoom meetings with upcoming Forum presenters, financial reviews with the staff, and website page reviews are part of her daily routine. Additionally, she allocates time for internet research, identifying potential speakers and collaborators for upcoming events. Regular phone or in-person meetings with members and constituents, coupled with overseeing national board meetings and attending chapter meetings, contribute to the dynamic nature of her role.

Working from home, Carol acknowledges the support of her husband, who has been a constant pillar throughout her career. With her daughter serving as the Executive Director of I-LinCP, family and work intertwine seamlessly. The home-based setup allows for frequent breaks, whether it’s playing with the dog or pursuing her passion for cooking. As a self-proclaimed foodie, Carol finds relaxation in creating recipes on the fly, employing her project management and time-management skills in the kitchen. The joy of providing nourishment, coupled with the exploration of new ingredients, tastes, and textures, adds a multisensory dimension to her pursuits. In 2018 1nd 2019, Carol focused on training and competing in races and half-marathons, which had been a personal goal.

Personal Goals and Motivation: Sustaining Excellence

Sustaining excellence is a driving force for Carol, grounded in her internal drive to be the best version of herself. The alignment of her work with personal values of authenticity, trust, and respect serves as a beacon guiding her professional endeavors. As she contemplates succession planning for I-LinCP, Carol envisions passing the CEO role to a new generation of leadership, ensuring the organization’s vitality.

A Message to Aspiring Businesswomen: Resilience and Authenticity

To aspiring businesswomen, Carol’s message is resolute: listen to your internal guidance and dismiss the naysayers. Despite the challenges and questions surrounding her choices, Carol’s response remains steadfast – because that is her chosen path. Her journey exemplifies the power of aligning one’s work with personal values, attracting like-minded individuals and experiences.