Skip to main content
40 Under 40 - Class of 2019
Business Observer Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019 1 month ago

Tiara Rubio, 34

Share
Project manager, Suffolk Construction
by: Brian Hartz Tampa Bay Editor

Tiara Rubio didn’t get the best grades in school — she says she has never been a good test taker — but she was so smart she would tutor other students to help them with their homework and exam preparation. She says her best subject was math and describes herself as a “protector of the nerds,” even though she, herself, wasn’t a nerd.

“I was always very protective, so I thought I would wind up doing something where I would help people,” she says.

As a teenager, Rubio envisioned herself becoming a psychologist, but as she learned more about the profession, she realized it wasn’t for her. “I needed something a little more active, a little more involved,” she says.

Rubio shifted her focus first to architecture and then construction. That proved to be a wise decision because today she is a project manager for Suffolk Construction and oversees huge jobs, such as the $345 million Seminole Hard Rock Tampa Hotel & Casino expansion. Prior to that, she headed up the $500 million, multimodal MiamiCentral Station project, which spans six city blocks in Miami.

As a Hispanic woman in the construction industry, Rubio is well aware of her minority status. It's her assertiveness, she says, that's a bulwark against workplace situations that others might find bothersome.

“There are occasions when it is difficult,” she says. “But I have a strong character, and I think that helps me. I make myself heard, and I don’t present as being weak, timid or scared. It comes from the feeling of equality. I feel that I am equal to every other person here.”

That attitude relates to a construction industry topic Rubio says wasn’t taught in school: the importance of relationships. “If you don’t have a good relationship with the people you need to hold a commitment, then it’s not worth anything,” she says. “I depend on my subcontractors to tell me the truth, so I can relay to the owner how long the project is going to take.”

The other key knowledge Rubio has picked up on the job relates to stress and stress management — hot topics in an industry where stakes are high and a missed deadline can cost millions of dollars.

“This is an extremely stressful industry,” she says. “There are a lot of people who have health issues because of stress. It’s not hypothetical. We see it every day. Stress management needs to be part of the curriculum, for sure.”

 

Related Stories

Advertisement