High-Level Responsibility – What does a site engineer do?

Without them, chaos will probably break out at some point, even on the smallest construction sites: construction managers have a lot of responsibility. What are the tasks of a site manager? Is it more difficult to survive in this job as a woman? Our guest today, Laura Kreisel, answers our questions. We are excited to see what she has to say! You too? Then read on now!

Building in Family

Our guest Laura Kreisel grew up in Thuringia and still lives there today. After graduating from high school, she was not really sure what to do, so she went to Australia to work there for a year. There, she decided to study civil engineering. After all, her parents are also firmly anchored in the construction industry. The balance of office work and working outside on a construction site, which she already knew from her father, was exactly what she wanted.

Having been a construction manager for many years, she now works for the city of Jena as a project manager. What she particularly likes is that she can watch a project grow. The diversity of the people she has to cooperate with also gives her variety.

Tasks of Site Management

So, we want to know: What exactly does construction management actually do? Laura explains to us that a site manager is on site for almost the entire construction phase. Depending on the size of the project, several site managers can work in a team. She tells us the three big anchors in construction management:

  • Dates
  • Costs
  • Quality

These three points are continuously monitored by a site manager from the beginning to the end of the construction work. First of all, it is necessary to create the basic conditions in order to achieve the project goal set by a client. This includes a realistic schedule, an allocation of the costs to the respective craft team, and the quality check determined by the planners. The construction management ensures that these anchor points are adhered to as far as possible during the construction phase or, if necessary, adjusted.

It is also a task of a site manager to tender and commission subcontractors. Depending on how big the client company is, it is possible that the construction manager is responsible for almost everything. From ordering materials, coordinating various companies on site, to avoiding or resolving conflicts, everything is included.

Laura describes the individuality of each project as special challenges in this job. Eventually, every building project is a little different and has regional characteristics, which is what makes it so exciting. It is also important to consistently keep an eye on the objective of the contract and work towards it. A site manager needs to be communicative and able to listen in order to do his/her job well.

Friends and family are also important. Construction managers are often on the road a lot, combined with long working hours. Depending on whether the company works regionally or across borders, they are either back home every evening or only on weekends. It depends on how you and the company organize it.

Women in Site Management

We have noticed in other episodes that there are relatively few women in civil engineering. Laura has a slightly different point of view here. Even at the undergraduate level, around 40% of civil engineering students are women. She experienced that herself. Many of the site managers she dealt with were women as well. However, she also mentions that it depends on the respective company.

It was only during her job interviews that she became aware that there are many prejudices against women in the construction industry, especially in the field of construction management.

  • Partly because of this, I decided on a company where something like this was not an issue at all."

On the construction site itself, it was initially not important for her that she was a woman, but rather her status as a graduate without great practical experience. She felt the same way as her male colleagues.

Laura tells us that, of course, there have been situations where her gender played a role: Be it the chauvinistic client who prefers to see women at rather home than on the construction site, or a friend request from a subcontractor on Facebook. But she did not have really bad experiences, such as suggestive slogans or defamation.

  • We didn't have anything like that. Otherwise, of course, I would have addressed it, also to the bosses. My colleagues would not have tolerated that either."

Laura explains that it is important not to be self-conscious about being something of a standout on the construction site as a woman. With the inner attitude of simply being one of many, many things are easier. Other than that, there does not seem to be any real prejudice about gender among site managers. She even heard from her colleagues that the climate was much more relaxed and pleasant when there were women on the site management team.

Effects of Digitization on Site Managers

The Coronavirus crisis in particular made it necessary to digitize as many work processes as possible. Home office in particular was, and still is, a big topic. Meetings with other companies from different technical crews suddenly took place online – and it worked.

  • Before, it was unimaginable that you would work in a home office as a site manager."

Laura notes that one hundred percent organization and coordination of a construction site cannot do without the presence of a construction manager on site anyway. Nevertheless, she sees it as very positive if the work of a construction manager should  open up more towards working from home in the long term.

Future of Construction

Tools for technical support, such as BIM, will be even more important in the future and will simplify the work of a site manager. She particularly sees potential in new materials and construction methods that will certainly be explored further in the future. These include, for example, carbon concrete, new timber construction methods, and concrete pressure.

What will affect us even more in the future is the shortage of personnel in the area of crafts and the founding of companies. There are fewer and fewer craftsmen and subcontractors who are then actually busy. We will have to deal with that.

She would advise young professionals to be open and curious about reaching out to others. Women in particular should approach the job without keeping it in mind that they are women. Even if you encounter problems in your job that initially seem insoluble, there is always a solution. In the end, you continue to grow in situations like this and learn from them.

Laura, what is your favorite building?

As at the end of every episode, we want to know what Laura's favorite building is. She does not have to think about it for a long time, and decides on the building that impressed her very much during her studies. It is the Pantheon in Rome. A nice choice!

  • It was a free temple that was not dedicated to any particular deity or religion, but has received everyone. I thought that was always a nice thought."

Of course, she is also impressed by the entire construction, since even back then, a kind of concrete was used for it. Especially the construction of the dome, with its opening, is something very special for that time. We can only agree. Thank you for visiting us!

Would you like to listen to the full episode? Here, you can find all episodes of our  Start Listening! !


As a copywriter in marketing, Ms. Ruthe is responsible for creating creative texts and gripping headlines.