ConstructionReaching out to better the building industryCarol Bionda
Vice president and general counsel
Nova Group Inc.
185 Devlin Road
NAPA -- As a Department of Defense contractor, Nova Group Inc. must fulfill a host of “best value” criteria requirements to win federal projects. Because of Nova’s track record with high volumes of small business subcontracting, the company consistently receives top ratings from the federal government. This has translated into a distinct competitive advantage for Nova Group that founder and President Ron Federick attributes directly to the efforts of Carol Bionda, the company’s vice president and general counsel.
Nova Group is a 34-year-old, award-winning general engineering contracting firm that earns $100 million annually in revenues providing infrastructure construction services for national and international federal government waterfront and fuel distribution projects. In the last three years, 86 percent of Nova's subcontracting dollars have gone to small businesses through Ms. Bionda's efforts as the company’s small business liaison officer.
Return to the list of Women in Business 2010 video remarks and profiles.
Ms. Bionda credits her business successes to the wide network of contacts – what she refers to as the proverbial "Old Boys' Network" – developed through her long history of active involvement in industry trade associations, something Mr. Federick urged her to do when she first joined the company in the mid-1980s.
“There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the Old Boys’ Network – as long as they let women in,” Ms. Bionda said. “It’s effective. Nova Group does a lot of joint venture work. Many of our projects are far away and getting larger and larger. We get more jobs just through our network and our work with trade associations because it’s all about building relationships.”
Ms. Bionda’s history of professional affiliations includes Associated Builders & Contractors, where she served as president of the Golden Gate Chapter in 1995 and chaired numerous committees such as the Minority/Women Task Force and the Diversity Committee. In 2004, she was the first woman to be elected national chair of the 25,000-member ABC.
As part of Women Construction Owners & Executives, she has served as director of the San Francisco district, president of the California chapter and president of the national organization in 1999-01. WCOE recognized her work with Nova Group and contributions to the industry by bestowing her with its Executive of the Year Award.
Ms. Bionda is also involved with Associated General Contractors at the state and national levels, and she is the 2010 vice chair of the Consensus DOCS Contract Advisory Council, a consortium of 23 construction trade associations working on an initiative to standardize construction agreements.
In joining Nova Group and following Mr. Federick’s advice, Ms. Bionda acknowledges she became somewhat of an unintentional pioneer for women in the construction industry.
“You have to wear a zillion hats in a small company, which Nova is by construction industry standards, so it kind of evolved. We now have other women in management. Sometimes somebody just has to do it first and make it OK for others to do it,” she said. “I’m proud of being a positive role model within and without the company. It’s benefited our company and the industry. You can really see that things have changed over the years just by the sheer numbers of women in the trade associations. There are also more women now who own construction businesses and who are in executive management.”