March 11, 2019
Faith Orsini knew early in life that she was going to be either a teacher or an architect (even though she didn’t even really know what an architect was). After taking a career assessment, her guidance counselor advised her that her math and science scores were “too high to be an architect” so she should be an engineer. Faith’s cousin was a structural engineer, so engineering ran in the family.
When it came time for college, Faith discovered that Drexel offered a dual degree – civil and architecture engineering – it seemed to be the best of both worlds. She enrolled and quickly discovered that the dual degree really had nothing to do with being an architect, instead it was heavy on engineering, but it didn’t matter – she was good in math and physics, so an engineer she became.
Faith worked in the structural engineering field for 10+ years, and while she enjoyed the problem solving and construction aspects of her job, she found that engineering in general didn’t suit her personality. She changed careers and became an owner’s representative with Stantec Consulting. During this time, she worked as a consultant to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. (part of RWJBarnabas Health).
Four years ago, she was brought on as a full-time employee at RWJ as AVP of Design and Construction. Working in healthcare has since become her secondary passion – even pushing her to obtain her Master’s degree in Healthcare Administration in December of 2018.
Now, Faith enjoys being part of a bigger whole – taking something that is only a thought or idea in someone’s mind, and helping it manifest into something real – figuring out where in the puzzle it belongs; how big it should be; how it’s designed; and how to capture the thought process and put it on paper so that a contractor can build it. She loves watching something move from thought to concept to budget to design to construction and ultimately moving into a finished space. Her engineering brain loves working through the tweaks that have to be made even after a space is complete. Faith takes a great sense of pride in being able to walk a space and know that it is this way because of decisions she made along the way, “It’s a cool thing to know that people see something because you made a decision.”
Throughout her career, Faith never had a female mentor – she was always the highest-ranking woman in her department. She never really had anyone that she could speak with about being a woman in this industry. Once she got into healthcare, she saw women in roles she aspired to be in and recognized how much of an influence it had on her. Then it struck her, that she had something she could offer to other women coming up through paths that she was also on, “Now I have a way that I can help make it easier for them than it was for me.” PWC affords her the ability to mentor and be mentored as well as connect with like-minded women. “What are they seeing? What are their struggles? How do you fit in at meetings? When do you get your hair cut? How do you maintain a work-life balance?”
Faith believes things are changing… slowly… but they are changing. “In this industry, people my age and younger are typically more open to working with women in leadership roles. However, we are still working with older generations who may not be as open or comfortable with it. I love being able to reach people at different stages in their career and influence their perspective.”