Maine highway consultant says ‘opportunities are endless’ in construction

This article is one in a series of conversations with women leaders in the construction industry. Click here for past discussions.

As a consulting inspector for the Maine DOT, Heather Groves oversees inspection staff and ensures that contractors are working within the specifications of each project. 

Heather Groves

Permission granted by Heather Groves


The Winthrop, Maine, native is the owner of Cole River Consultants, a business she started in 2018 after working for an engineering firm.

“Owning my business so far has given me more learning opportunities and experiences than I could have gained there,” said Groves, who is also the Northeast Region Director for the National Association of Women in Construction.

Here, Groves talks with Construction Dive about how she chose construction as a career and her advice for young women in the industry.

Answers have been edited for brevity and clarity.

CONSTRUCTION DIVE: What led you to choose construction for your career? 

HEATHER GROVES: My parents got divorced when I was at a young age. Mom and I living in Maine meant that time with Dad in Connecticut was precious. So most days you could find me riding shotgun in a dump truck or playing in the gravel pit with his mini excavator, so I could be with him.

What do you do as a DOT consultant?

I work with abutting landowners, the contractor, local officials and public works at times. I oversee and put together pay estimates for the contractor, which involves the tracking of quantities, contract modifications and other miscellaneous details. 

What are a few of the projects you’ve most enjoyed working on and why? 

I have most enjoyed working with the MDOT Safety and Highway Program on the Centerline Rumble Strip Program. Since joining this team in 2016, we have taken the program from just over 100 miles to upwards of 600 miles. 

What challenges have you faced over the years?

The biggest challenge over the years has been learning how to communicate in an assertive manner that doesn’t portray me as a “bitch.” 

What advice would you give to young women considering construction as a career? 

Listen to your gut, and when you’re in doubt, ask questions. Also, find your support network, which should include mentors, sponsors, friends and family. 

I think construction is absolutely an excellent job choice for women. There are so many facets to the construction industry that the opportunities are endless.

Leave a comment