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By Andrea Lumsden

The mothers who help build Camana Bay

Women posing in front of mural
Dart Land Use Planner Colleen Stoetzel, left, CSA Construction Engineer Rita Ebanks, centre, and Project Information Manager Phenicia Fraser are working mothers building their careers in a male-dominated industry. Not pictured: Elizabeth Taylor. — Photo: Rhian Campbell

There’s a good reason why working mothers are often celebrated: it’s a tough gig. Yet millions of women around the world - not to mention hundreds of them within the Camana Bay community - embrace the challenge with fierce determination and an abundance of love. Their careers span across every imaginable business sector, including traditionally male-dominated industries such as construction, an industry that is seeing a growing number of women*, many of them mothers. 

Despite the obstacles, women are making their mark in Grand Cayman’s construction industry, including four Camana Bay ‘super mums’. Meet Rita Ebanks, Phenicia Fraser, Colleen Stoetzel and Elizabeth Taylor, four women who have charted their career paths in construction and who take pride in their beloved roles as mothers.   


It’s not all hard hats 

“There are many different kinds of jobs in construction beyond working at a building site,” says Rita Ebanks, a CSA construction engineer at Dart and mother to an eight-year-old boy. “While my job does require me to be on site, I also spend time in a in the office managing multiple aspects of a project’s execution.” 

Ebanks’s role in project execution requires her to be involved in a construction project’s entire lifecycle - from beginning to end, she juggles a multitude of tasks and activities such as coordinating work with contractors, sourcing and purchasing materials, tracking purchases and supervising implementation.  

“I love the many challenges of my job,” says Ebanks. “I ensure multiple contractors, such as tilers or painters, can do their work in any given space without scheduling conflicts. I also source a variety of materials such railings, tiles, rugs, furniture and lighting. Dealing with the supply chain can be challenging, so we source items from many different vendors in countries such as Italy, Spain, Indonesia and China. Once sourced, I coordinate the purchasing, track shipping, supervise deliveries and oversee the installation process.” 

Despite the demands of a full-time job, Ebanks balances her work and personal life with discipline in order to spend as much time with her son as possible. “He is my life,” she says. “I consider myself fortunate to have a career I love, but I also make sure to allow myself the free time needed to be there for my son.” 


Making time for dates 

Like Ebanks, Dart Project Information Manager Phenicia Fraser believes one must be disciplined when it comes to balancing the many responsibilities of a working mother.  

“There’s a misconception that working moms don’t have time for their families,” says Fraser, mother to an 11-year-old girl and a six-year-old boy. “I believe you must make the time – if you’re purposeful with time management, then you can create a good work-life balance.” 

Fraser, who also makes and sells art and local desserts – such as cassava cake – in her free time, makes it a point to have dates with her kids.  

“I take them out on dates,” she says. “Mommy-daughter and mommy-son dates are an important part of our lives.” She also believes family support is invaluable and encourages other working mums to lean on their families or friends for help if they can. 

At work, Fraser is instrumental when it comes to document control and the timely flow of information to and from contractors, subcontractors or vendors. Her day-to-day work is typically fast paced and involves managing planning applications, submittals, RFIs and providing the latest project drawings to contractors. With her work on Hotel Indigo® Grand Cayman wrapping up, Fraser is looking forward to working on the next Camana Bay commercial office building. 

“I love my team and I love what I do,” says Fraser, who’s worked in the field for almost 20 years. “I encourage women to consider a career in the construction industry – we need more women.” 


Holistic planning  

Dart Land Use Planner Colleen Stoetzel agrees that time management and good planning are critical when it comes to balancing career and motherhood. 

“It's a balancing act that I enjoy, especially because there’s always planning involved,” says Stoetzel, whose 12-year-old son inspires her work at Camana Bay. “My job requires the gathering of data to inform a lot of the planning work I do in and around the Town Centre. 

“Oftentimes it may be anecdotal data, but it is useful, nonetheless. For example, my son, his peers and older teenagers are a big part of the afternoon population in Camana Bay. They spend time and money at certain types of Camana Bay businesses and they typically travel by foot, scooter or bike as they begin to gain more independence.” 

Stoetzel explains that these observations can inspire long-term planning at Camana Bay, which is done holistically and allows her team to consider things such as the addition of shade structures, improving biking connections and promoting walkability and bike use. Accessibility and age inclusivity are also important factors that Stoetzel includes in her work.  

“I have recently become more involved in accessibility planning at Camana Bay,” says Stoetzel. “We monitor accessible parking as well as the ease with which a person using a wheelchair or even a baby stroller can maneuver around the Town Centre and in and out of businesses. I’m also an advocate for age inclusivity so that people of all ages, including our elderly population, can enjoy the Town Centre.” 


Flexibility is key 

Another factor that supports the busy life of a working mum is workplace flexibility and Dart Estimator Elizabeth Taylor does not take it for granted. 

“There has been a shift in culture post-COVID that has allowed more flexibility in the workplace,” says Taylor, mother to a 12-year-old girl and 21-year-old son. “I’m grateful that Dart gives us the flexibility to work from home as needed, either for productivity reasons or if a parent needs to be home with a sick child. It’s truly a game changer.” 

Taylor, a certified quantity surveyor, has worked in construction for over 15 years and, in her current role, is responsible for ensuring that costs and associated risks remain under control throughout any given project. Over the years she has worked on many Camana Bay projects including Kapok, 60 Nexus Way and is looking forward to working on the next commercial office building. 

“Being a working mother can be hectic,” says Taylor, whose 21-year-old son is attending college overseas. “I believe we have to be flexible with ourselves and do our best to enjoy the moments while our kids are young because in the blink of an eye they're away at college or starting their adult lives.” 


How they're celebrating Mother's Day

  • Rita Ebanks: “l will likely spend it with my mom and eldest sister, who is now a mom as well!”
  • Phenicia Fraser: “I'm sure Anthony [my husband] has something special planned, just not sure what!” 
  • Colleen Stoetzel: “I will hike the Mastic Trail – it's my Mother’s Day tradition.” 
  • Elizabeth Taylor: “It’s my daughter’s birthday weekend, so there will be a party the day before and then I will relax on the day.” 


*In 2022, the National Association of Women in Construction reported that women make up 10.9% of the construction industry workforce in the United States, a 1% increase over 2019.

This article was published in the May 2024 print edition of Camana bay Times. 

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