story BY: CHARLES A. COULOMBE
What is the secret to your success at CARCON Industries and STL Engineers?
Success is measured in many ways: people, profit, growth, etc. I have always intentionally set goals with milestones and have always believed in strong, consistent performance metrics. Secondly, I always trust my intuition – this is paramount. Being in a great place in my heart and soul, allows me to make critical decisions every day and never look back.
What is your leadership style?
I am a big believer in the concepts in Stephen Covey’s “The Speed of Trust”. This simple but powerful leadership style is in essence, “The ability to establish, extend, and restore trust with all stakeholders - customer, business partners, investors and coworkers.” To me, it takes an important life virtue of trust into a deeper sense of meaning. These principles have always guided me as an individual, as a mother, friend, and CEO. I have always led according to basic core values that are innately a part of my being, such as integrity, character, respect, and intent.
How do you inspire your management teams and employees?
As the owner and leader of two companies, I make it a point to meet with my management teams weekly. I stay closely connected with our projects and staffing needs. And with my team, we meet with our clients to understand their needs, deadlines, and goals. While I am a very engaged CEO, I empower team members to make decisions that move us forward. Visitors to our organization often observe that our employees “all march to the beat of the same drum”. This comes from building trust with, and among, my employees. You can never go wrong by simply leading by example.
Who were your mentors in banking and construction and how did their advice help you excel in your career?
In banking, it was Mr. Ted Strauss. By his invitation, I served with him on two bank boards and he taught me business strategies that as he would say ‘’ you can’t find these lessons in a book, Arcilia.” He was so proud when in 2013, I was invited to join the board of what is now Legacy Texas Financial Group. I remember him saying to me: “on this one, you have to go at it alone, but I will always be there for you.” Ted passed in September of 2014 and I still miss him dearly.
In construction, my mentors are many. Chris Escobedo and Gilbert May with Phillip Mays Corporation gave me one of my first jobs in construction and guided me as I grew my firm in the early years. Joe Lee and Gary Geppert with Archer Western gave me the next major opportunity to grow my companies by working with them as a joint venture partner in building the first extension of the DART Green Line. Over the years my mentors have included Luis Spinola with Omega/Azteca, Doug Jones with Balfour Beatty, and Shankar Nariyanna, with Austin Bridge and Road.
What prompted you to start multiple companies and serve on multiple boards?
My dream was to bring my father’s Construction Company to Dallas and I knew from the very beginning that I wanted to build several subsidiaries and diversify my portfolio. Today, I own four subsidiaries and all of my companies perform services in some capacity in the construction and engineering industries. An important lesson I share is to always invest in what you know. I serve as a Director of Energy Future Holdings (parent company of TXU Energy, ONCOR Services, and Luminant Generation) and as a Director of Legacy Texas Financial Group, Inc. On both boards, I serve on both the Audit Committee and the Compensation Committee. My financial background has proven to be a tremendous asset for me and for the boards of which I serve. In addition, I am the only Hispanic on each board.
What motto do you live by?
I have two. One is, “The risks in life that you regret are the ones you never take”. The second is, “Always do your research, study and keep learning about those things that intrigue you and move your mind”.