Construction and Commencement: Iva Esteves Builds a New Future

When anything breaks in her house, Iva Esteves’ 5-year-old daughter brings it straight to her mother.

“She tells me all the time, ‘Mommy you can fix anything,’” Esteves said. “She thinks I’m the coolest person ever, mostly because of my job.”

In addition to being a mom, Esteves has another full-time job as a construction coordinator for Robins & Morton, working on the six-story, 160,000-square-foot medical center, UHealth at Doral, in Doral, Florida. Her role includes supporting operations activities in the field, maintaining logs, assisting with building layout and quality management, and fielding questions from trade contractors on the site. It’s fast-paced work, requiring attention to detail and the ability to juggle multiple tasks at once. It challenges Esteves daily, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.

Iva Esteves professional photo

Esteves started her construction career at 20 years old as an administrative assistant at Robins & Morton’s Baptist Health South Florida Miami Cancer Institute. She was responsible for answering phones and handling document control but found herself finishing her work early. She was curious about the other roles contributing to the construction of the complex 445,000-square-foot facility.

“I started to ask everyone, ‘Hey what are you working on? How can I help you?’” Esteves said. “I would ask how to do certain things because I was connecting that the invoices that I was processing were part of something so much bigger.”

That’s when Esteves met her first mentor: Senior Project Manager Robert Creswick.

“He really took the time with me to break things down so I understood why I was doing what I was doing,” Esteves said. “I kept asking for more. Over time, he started giving me some tasks to do in project management.”

A short time later, Robins & Morton transferred Esteves to a project just a few miles away – a parking deck and an early learning center at West Kendall Baptist Hospital – and that’s where she had what she calls her “aha moment.”

“I’d been working since I was [in high school] in restaurants and at ice cream shops and thought that I may want to work in nutrition and health [one day], but I really had that ‘aha’ moment with Robins & Morton when I understood the purpose behind what we do,” Esteves said. “I lived across the street from that hospital, my high school and middle school were there, all in the vicinity of my house growing up. I never would have thought I was going to be a part of something so big in my community.”

Esteves thrived at the West Kendall Baptist Hospital project, expressing the desire to learn more and grow within Robins & Morton. In 2018, she had a daughter and returned to the Baptist Health South Florida campus, supporting the construction of the Hope Tower, which continued through 2020. On that project, she worked closely with Senior Project Manager Ivy Armstrong, learning more about budgeting and management tools.

“She trusted me with [maintaining] that data, so I was going to prove to them that I could do it,” Esteves said. “I really took advantage of that knowledge, and [the team] said, ‘You’re allowed to make mistakes.’ They gave me the push I needed.”

With Armstrong’s guidance, Esteves accepted a role in the company’s Miami office to learn more about estimating and preconstruction.

“[Senior Preconstruction Manager] Jeff [Butler] is one of the best mentors the company has,” Esteves said. “He loves to teach. He just lights up every time he teaches me something. Having a mentor like that who has such passion for what he does and such a great work ethic, I thought to myself, I have to be good at this.”

During her stint in the Miami office, Esteves applied and was accepted to Robins & Morton’s Barbara Wilson Mentoring Program. Named after Robins & Morton’s retired vice president of marketing who started her career in an administrative role, the program takes an individualized approach to supporting trainees in skill building, helping them transition into an operations position from a support role. After beginning the program, Esteves moved into a construction coordinator role to strengthen her field experience at UHealth at Doral.

“It’s just given me such a cool, 360-[degree]-view of what I was doing [before] to what I’m doing now,” Esteves said. “Everything has really come full circle for me.”

What’s next for Esteves? First, graduation.

In early April, Esteves will graduate from the Barbara Wilson Mentoring Program at a ceremony to be held in Birmingham, Alabama – the location of Robins & Morton’s home office. The ceremony will be held at the Valley Hotel, a Robins & Morton build, and will be paired with the commencement of another Robins & Morton mentorship program, the Rocky McMichen Field Leadership Program.

“Mentorship and support networks are crucial for the continued success of women in construction,” Esteves said. “It’s essential to provide guidance and resources to help us thrive in what has traditionally been a male-populated industry. By empowering women with the skills and knowledge we need, we contribute to a more diverse and dynamic construction workforce.”

Next on Esteves’ list will be celebrating her daughter’s sixth birthday just a few days later.

“She’s definitely my drive,” Esteves said. “Because of this company and the opportunities I’ve had, I’m able to give my daughter the life that she has.”

In the coming year, Esteves plans to return to an estimating role but notes how much she’ll miss the daily work in the field.

“I’m having so much fun out here. Every day, we’re problem-solving, and I love working with people,” Esteves said. “I think wherever I end up, it’s still an opportunity to demonstrate the strength, resilience, and skill that women bring to the construction field. I’ll be grateful wherever it is that I end up, as long as it’s with Robins & Morton.”