Chante Blackwood’s bold bid

Keisha Hill
Keisha Hill

March 8, 2022

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With a passion for construction, Chante Blackwood was undeterred by the uncertainty posed by the coronavirus pandemic and started her own business in March 2020, the same month Jamaica recorded its first official case. PHOTO BY RICARDO MAKYN/CHIEF PHOTO EDITOR

Chante Blackwood knows all too well the challenges facing women in construction.

But this did not deter the 28-year-old professional’s passion for the industry. She is fun and adventurous, and loves the thrill of juggling her regular job as a project manager with her construction business – Chantier.

“I am self-driven and a firm believer in the saying, ‘If you do what you love, you will never work a day in your life.’ Time management is very critical. I cannot function without my planner; this is how I stay organised,” said Blackwood, who hails from Spanish Town, St Catherine

As a child, Blackwood loved interior decorating and architecture, and spent most of her time playing what Jamaicans call ‘dolly house’. She also read a lot and would often use her books to create floor plans and set up the rooms with doll sets.

She considered herself an average student who went to school and did well. “I attended St Catherine Primary, after which I passed for my first choice, Merl Grove High. I got nine CSEC (Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate) subjects, then I furthered my studies at Portmore Community College and the University of Technology,” Blackwood said.

Armed with an associate degree in construction technology and a bachelor’s in civil engineering, Blackwood started her construction business in March 2020, at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, all while continuing to advance her project manager career. She is currently pursuing her project management professional certification.

MAN’S WORLD

While the construction business is often seen as a man’s world, Blackwood does not believe that she is an outsider in the industry, and she has never had to conform to fit in. “I have a lot of advantages being a woman in the field, to be honest. It gives me that drive to work hard to be on top like my counterparts,” Blackwood said.

As a child, Blackwood loved interior decorating and architecture, and spent most of her time playing what Jamaicans call ‘dolly house’.

Learning to be true to herself and adopting her own operating style was a watershed moment in her career. Some women, Blackwood said, might believe they cannot do a role, but by giving them support and backing, they have the opportunity to succeed.

“It all starts with a passion. Be very dedicated, and do not be afraid to put your foot forward. Always take a leap of faith. The most important thing is to be very confident,” she said.

Every new appointment or promotion carries some risk, and Blackwood is unconvinced that women are less equipped to succeed than men. “Overcoming barriers yourself makes you more aware of the barriers others contend with, and more determined to remove the barriers that prevent people from being able to fully participate,” she said.

Her typical day starts at 6 a.m., with each day bringing its fair share of challenges.

“My day usually starts off by checking the status of my projects and then calling my team to prep them for the day, followed by checking my schedule and completing each task that I set out for that particular day. I don’t slow down until it’s 6 p.m.,” she said.

With enthusiasm and steadfast commitment to going the extra mile in spite of the challenges, she is optimistic that she will continue to advance in her career.

Blackwood’s typical day starts at 6 a.m., with each day bringing its fair share of challenges.

“I really want to move into luxury construction. That’s the aim right now. I want Chantier to be a household name that sits at the top with the big boys, like the Matalons’ or the Issas’. I’m really committed to [pushing] myself to tremendous growth,” Blackwood said.

keisha.hill@gleanerjm.com

Keisha Hill

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Keisha Hill

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