Construction CEO: ‘I enjoy breaking the mould for future generations’
Virginia Toalepai is CEO and president of World Wide Safety, a construction consulting agency that identifies, evaluates, and resolves safety challenges at job sites. She also founded RYSHOC Family, a nonprofit organization that trains young people for careers by providing them with the necessary tools and education to succeed.
What is the best business advice you’ve received?
Everyone wants to be successful, but not everyone is willing to do what it takes. Your dreams are only as good as the work you put into them.
If you could change one thing about Southern Nevada, what would it be?
I wish our summers were a little shorter and the winters weren’t as cold. I come from Samoa, where the weather is always beautiful.
What’s the biggest issue facing Southern Nevada?
Not having enough manpower for the workforce. A lot of qualified people left the city when the recession hit, and now that the market has gone back up, the work field is left depleted.
What has been your most exciting professional project?
The most exciting projects I have been able to work on were for MGM Resorts. Aria and Monte Carlo are some of my favorites.
What’s your favorite place to have fun in Las Vegas?
Because I work such long hours, my favorite place to have fun is at home. I love spending time with my daughters. On the rare occasion that we get out of the house, Lake Las Vegas is my favorite getaway. It is a whole different world from the busy city life.
Describe your management style.
I am definitely a hands-on manager. I like to provide training and opportunities to teach my employees best practices so when they are on job sites, everything runs as smoothly as possible.
Where do you see yourself and company in 10 years?
We conduct business in Nevada, Utah and Wyoming, and I have set our 2017 year goal to expand across the U.S., utilizing the current client base we have. In 10 years, I see our company being nationwide, if not worldwide!
What is your dream job outside of your current field?
I would love to be a motivational speaker for RYSHOC Family. It’s a dream of mine to help more people chase after the career of their choice and teach them that nothing is impossible.
What is your biggest pet peeve?
When people give excuses for not getting the job done. There is always a way to solve a problem.
What is your funniest or most embarrassing work story?
I drove my little Nissan Frontier over mud during an inspection on a job site. I ended up having the contractors on site pull me out of the mud. I thought to myself, “So much for always being safe!”
What is something that people might not know about you?
I was born on an island and I can’t swim.
How did you enter in the construction industry? What career steps led to where you are?
I was introduced to the construction safety industry by my ex-husband. It was through a series of trying different fields that I finally pursued my passion of safety.
The construction world, percentage-wise, is dominated by men. What are the pros and cons of being a woman in this field?
I enjoy breaking the mold for future generations. By doing so, I am able to show that there is diversity and opportunity in the construction field.
On the con side, I have to prove to men on the sites that I have the knowledge and passion for my profession to get the job done. I am also not usually approached for my opinion until I am introduced and the team learns who I am and the credentials I have.
Tell us about the nonprofit organizations you support and why are they important to our community.
• Associated Builders & Contractors: The programs it offers are phenomenal. The apprenticeship teaches every candidate not only book knowledge but also hands-on learning to help employees become skilled and ready for employment. It also provides an outlet for those who can’t attend college to earn a living while taking care of their families.
• Southern Nevada Home Builders Association: I enjoy working with all our local builders as we are given the opportunity to provide safety education for the many men and women who are in the construction field.
• HomeAid of Southern Nevada: I admire this organization’s commitment to provide homes for the homeless. Each contractor involved has donated countless hours and provided funding to make every project a success.
• Nevada Subcontractors Association: This association is the hands and feet of the community. From the subcontractors, underground contractors to roofing contractors, everyone is wonderful and there for each other.
• National Association of Women Business Owners: It is important for women to be involved with an organization that supports one another and provides a great opportunity to network.
• National Association of Minority Contractors: I am 100 percent Samoan and I enjoy supporting and encouraging all minorities and their business goals.