Women in Business Stories: Leading a hungry, humble, and smart team

Published on Mar 02, 2023

Women in Business Stories: Leading a hungry, humble, and smart team

Every March, we celebrate Women’s History Month where we honor women’s contributions in American History. This is a time to celebrate actions big and small that have led the way for progression. The theme for Women’s History Month 2023 is Celebrating the Women Who Tell Our Stories. These women might be podcasters or news anchors, authors or movie stars but they all have one thing in common: they’re storytellers. Making a difference is part of the way forward and having someone to share the story of success and triumph takes us even further. 

In the spirit of these female storytellers, Valley’s Women in Business program is passionate about telling the stories of our members who make an impact and are making history in their industries. 

We’re proud to share the story of Mariela Abreu of DBI Projects. 

Meet Mariela 

Mariela Abreu is a Partner and Senior Director at DBI Projects, LLC. where she has skillfully led educational, nonprofit, cultural, hospitality, commercial, and residential projects for a range of private and institutional clients. She attributes some of her success to her ability of self-perception. “I believe it’s all about the way you see yourself and if you have the self-belief that you belong there just as much as anyone. The challenges certainly exist; however, they do not feel quite as inhibitive, if you have this mindset, and enable me to continually move forward.” 

Rising ahead in a male dominated industry 

While construction might be considered a male dominated industry, Mariela believes that while there are unique challenges, being a woman in business is “the same as being a ‘man in business’. There should be no difference in how you view yourself or how others view you, regardless of gender.” Along with her co-owners, Mariela considers their proudest achievement to be the growth of their “hungry, humble, and smart” team. DBI Projects leadership works hard to build a culture ingrained with a profound respect for and humility at being entrusted with each and every project. The company culture is inclusive, celebrates hard work, and is something they are very proud of. 

Beyond a thriving company culture, Mariela also works hard to show other women that challenges shouldn’t prevent them from reaching their goals. “The construction industry is tough,” says Mariela. “The moments where we celebrate the successes, small and large, are what motivates me through the hard days.” 

A balancing act

Striking the right work-life balance is a current personal challenge for Mariela. She, like most women in business, works hard in her career and strives to be present at home with her daughter. While it isn’t always easy, she’s settled into a routine of disconnecting from work at the end of the day to give her daughter undivided attention, and then signing back on to finish up work when her daughter is asleep. “It’s a balancing act that many women face and there’s significant sacrifice and effort that is required to make it work,” she says. “What keeps me going is that I’m hopeful my daughter will be proud of me when she grows up. She is my number one priority and I want to ensure I set a good personal and professional example for her.”

Inspiring the next generation 

In addition to setting an example and being a positive role model for women in her field, Mariela seeks to be an inspiration by being open and generous with her time and knowledge. She shares her experiences and the lessons she’s learned. And, she listens and approaches all situations with an open mind. “I do believe women have a unique unwritten responsibility to look out for each other and share their experiences to pave the way for other women out there that see themselves differently or believe they don’t deserve a seat at the table.  If you have the motivation, you make the effort and you excel, you deserve that seat at the table. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”