Apr 07 2012

Martina Ernst

President & CEO, Wo-Built Inc.

Topics: Business & Finance
Interview Date: February-21-2012
Extraordinary Insights: “Have confidence in yourself; confidence in yourself to know that what you are doing is absolutely right and you have no doubt of it.”

Audio-only version:

Martina studied Architecture at London University in London, England, believing she wanted to be an architect. But half-way through her course she became passionate about lighting design and the possibilities of transforming spaces through light. After working a few years in England as a lighting designer, she came to Canada in the early 90s where she joined a firm of project managers and where she managed a team of eight engineers to develop energy performance improvements in 178 buildings of a major Canadian School Board.

In 1996, she worked in Singapore on the team that designed and built the new line of the Singapore subway system, a total of 16 new stations. Here she envisaged and led the new countrywide transportation image and manual for the Singapore Land Transport Authority and resolved complex coordination and contract problems of complementary architectural contracts. A long-term ambition to do an MBA brought her back to Canada and after completing one in Strategic Management at the University of British Columbia in 2002, she started her own consulting firm which specialized in helping not-for-profit organisations make money, a choice that resulted from her wish to help the community. However, never forgetting her roots in design, she jumped at the chance to become involved in mentoring women in construction. Thus, as co-founder and CEO of Wo-Built Inc, she strives to achieve a balance between hard business realities such as profitability and client satisfaction and the social dimension, the mentoring of women in construction.

As one of the few female-led design and build companies in the Greater Toronto Area, Wo-Built believes that women are great assets to the building industry, especially in the finishing trades. They provide mentoring and support for women, and help cultivate their distinctive talents whenever possible. Martina keeps pace with advances in eco-friendly technology and building techniques. Quality is the original green technology: less maintenance and waste over time. Martina’s long-term goal is to combine all three social missions: providing training while building affordable, green housing.

“That’s why Wo-Built is the Vision Builder: we envision a better life for you; then we build it.”