In honor of Women’s History Month, Rockwood Equity is spotlighting one of our newer partners: Rina Kabouk, owner of Pase Environmental and one of the top female leaders in the stormwater control industry.
How would you describe your management or leadership style?
My leadership style is to be direct and lead by example. I have always set high expectations for myself and because of that, I have high expectations for others and expect them to do their best. Many of my employees have been with me a long time, having started in the field and moved up to become managers. I try to recognize the potential in people and have taken a chance on people who others may have overlooked. I find I communicate best when talking with people and I especially like talking with people who want to learn. I will always be available to help when needed.
How does being a woman affect your leadership style?
I would say I probably give more support and encouragement than some of my male counterparts. I see woman and myself being coaches and mentors, rather than an authority figure. I treat employees equally and fairly – especially field labor. I also believe woman can balance all the different personalities you encounter in a day effectively – employees, customers, vendors, you name it.
What is your philosophy and approach with regard to partnerships and collaboration?
The most important thing is to build trust, and always following through with what I commit to. I like to build relationships first, get to know the customer, understand their needs. I also seek out strategic partnerships and companies where there is a great fit and we can achieve shared goals.
What have been your proudest accomplishments in your career?
The thing that makes me most proud is watching past and present employees flourish and shine in their own careers. That is very rewarding to me. I am proud of the work I do and that I started a company and built it from scratch. It was literally a truck, a Bobcat, four installers, and a trailer, and I am now one of the leaders in stormwater and erosion control.
What are you looking forward to?
I have spent my entire life working and, at the right time, I want to enjoy the fruits of my labor – but I’m not there yet! Professionally, I am looking forward to the challenge of taking Pase Environmental to new heights with my new partner, Rockwood Equity. It’s not just me anymore. Now I have an amazing partner to help me scale and take Pase Environmental to even higher heights. It’s very exciting.
What inspires you most about the work you do?
The environment—the work that we do to take care of the planet and our water to ensure that it is protected, not just for today but for future generations.
Do you see women playing a more significant role in the industry in the future?
I started this company a little over 20 years ago, and I have noticed over the years that I am not the only woman around the table anymore. I am seeing more engineers, more construction managers, more environmental specialists that are women. That is really great to see.
What has been the most significant development in the erosion control industry in the last 10 years?
That environmental awareness is at an all-time high right now, plus the increased regulation and enforcement by the EPA and local municipalities. People are taking it seriously.
What is the biggest challenge the industry is currently facing?
How to adjust for climate change, and also getting buy-in from contractors and owners to keep our waters clean. It needs to be something that everyone wants to do, not just because they’re mandated to do it.
What would you most like to accomplish in this industry over the next 10 years?
Leaving this world in a better place by passing on my legacy of hard work, perseverance and doing the job right. I want women to see me and feel inspired and encouraged to come into this field. I’d also like to promote more green infrastructure. When we’re building, let’s think about how to recapture water and repurpose it for use in landscaping or have rain gardens and green roofs.
What advice would you give to a woman entering this industry?
Find someone who truly cares that you will succeed and will guide you and be your mentor. Then go out there and be better than anyone else on the job. Invest in yourself, be prepared, and learn as much as you can and then walk in there with confidence—that’s how you earn respect.