North Bay Business Journal asked 2019 Women in Business Awards winner Demae Rubins to fill us in on her background, responsibilities and community involvement, and insights into what makes her a notable professional in the region.
Professional background: Have worked at Summit for the past 13 years as a project manager and became an owner in 2018.
Education: Degree in landscape architecture from California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo
Tell us about yourself and your company: I am one of six children and was born and raised in the East Bay. I moved to Sonoma County in 2002. Over the past 19 years of my professional career, I’ve primarily helped plan and obtain use permits for wineries.
I joined Summit in 2006 as a project manager, started our planning and permitting division in 2017 and became an owner in 2018. Summit is a Santa Rosa-based consulting engineering firm providing planning, permitting, design and project management services in the areas of electrical and lighting design, structural, general civil, and water/wastewater engineering.
Is there a major accomplishment in the past year or so that you would like to share?
Becoming an owner at Summit has been my largest accomplishment of the past year.
What is the achievement you are most proud of?
I am extremely proud of starting the planning division at Summit.
What is your biggest challenge today?
Professionally it is recruiting in today’s market. Personally, it is make time for myself and not allow all my other priorities to get in the way of that.
Words that best describe you: Energetic, driven, kind and understanding.
As a successful female professional, what were the biggest obstacles you faced and how did you overcome them?
Finding my voice and asking for what I wanted was a challenge earlier in my career. I was extremely fortunate to have a great mentor and Summit’s support in my professional development that allowed me to work on improvement that.
How do you think your profession will change in the next five years?
I believe that people are going to be driven to professional assistance in the planning and permitting world. Regulations and neighbor tensions are getting more complex and can be very time consuming for someone that does not deal with them on a regular basis.
Who was your most important mentor?
Greg Swaffar recently retired from Summit. He taught me about winery design, the critical components for entitling wineries, and challenged me daily to be the best that I could be.
What advice would you give to a young woman entering your profession or the work world today?
Don’t be afraid to be assertive and curious. Don’t change yourself for others. People don’t have to like you for you to be effective. They need to respect you and that will come when you are your true self consistently.
Most admired businessperson outside your organization: This is a really hard question to answer. I would say that the people I tend to admire are those that bring empathy, integrity, and positivity to work every day.
Typical day at the office: Involves a lot of interaction from staff and clients to government agencies and consultants. It is constant problem solving and communication to stay on top of the various projects.