Featuring Women in Construction: Kelly Tiltges—
Konrad Construction Office Manager
Kelly Tiltges’s career spans numerous industries and specialties, but one important thing has stayed constant throughout—her desire to work hard, be a team player, and pursue opportunities for growth.
The story of Kelly’s career is one of adaptability, driven by dedication. This has aligned perfectly with her current role as Office Manager here at Konrad Construction.
As Office Manager, Kelly oversees a massive portion of our backend operations and directs our finances.
Whether she’s managing payroll, subcontractor relationships, taxes, communications with our team in the field, or pretty much anything else imaginable—Kelly works hard to ensure everything we do goes according to plan.
How She Got Here
Before arriving at Konrad Construction in 2012, Kelly worked as a project manager, salesperson, and realtor—just to name a few of the roles she tackled.
But when Kelly finally joined our team, she was no stranger to the construction industry. In fact, she was raised in it.
Family Business(es): 3 Generations of Construction
Kelly Tiltges is part of a multi-generational construction family with roots in Chicagoland.
It all began with her grandfather, who was an IUOE Local 150 Operating Engineer. He brought Kelly’s father along to work sites, showing him the ropes of professional trades and instilling a remarkable work ethic in him.
Inspired by his childhood experiences, Kelly’s father then became a general contractor and started his own custom homebuilding business.
This set the stage for what Kelly’s childhood would look like.
Growing Up While Growing a Construction Business
Kelly’s father ran his business out of her childhood home, so construction was simply a part of her everyday life. It was unavoidable, though she grew to love it.
As her family (and the business) grew, Kelly began to help out more and more.
She started taking on responsibilities like billing, bookkeeping, and pretty much anything else the business needed.
Kelly said she was no stranger to fieldwork either, whether at her dad’s or her grandpa’s construction sites.
“We got to go to the job sites and see the land, the holes, and what was gonna become of it,” she said.
This helped her develop a deep appreciation for the industry.
She saw firsthand how hard work helps communities spring to life, which still inspires her to this day.
“I like seeing something come from the ground and be built into something beautiful,” she said.
Laying the Foundation: How Construction Shaped Her Professional Values
Growing up in the construction industry taught Kelly many important lessons, with some of them becoming guiding principles for her career.
Let Hard Work Speak for Itself
Being in the field with her dad and her grandpa showed her the importance of having a strong work ethic.
She learned that letting hard work speak for itself is far more fulfilling (and effective) than trying to seek shallow approval from others. This proved to be especially true in the construction industry.
“It’s not corporate America, where you gotta wear a skirt, and do your hair, and have all these constraints,” she said. “When you work hard, people see it and they appreciate it.”
Be a Team Player
Kelly recalls seeing the value of her dad’s camaraderie that he had with his peers and his subcontractors.
“He was successful because of the people he surrounded himself with and worked with,” she said.
She keeps this camaraderie alive and uses it to energize her colleagues at Konrad Construction every single day.
“I appreciate that I have people that I call my team here,” she said. “We’re all here together, we all bring different things to the table—let’s win. Let’s do our best. Let’s be successful. Let’s build.”
Pursue New Opportunities
Construction showed Kelly that there are almost endless ways to improve and advance—you just have to look for them.
“When I was younger, I just saw construction in one lens,” she said—mentioning how she perceived the industry mainly based on the work that went on in the field.
But by getting involved, Kelly quickly realized just how vast the reach of the construction industry really is. “It’s so many things,” she said. “All the things that are behind it—the money, the project management, the finance, design, leasing, selling—there’s just so many aspects of it.”
To this day, she’s still motivated by her desire to keep an eye out for new possibilities.
Even though she loves what she does (and is amazing at it), she knows she has the power to choose a new path if she wanted to.
“If I wanted to get out of the money part, I could project manage. I could, you know, take over a different role if I wanted change, which one day—maybe I will!”
Don’t Be Afraid to Explore: Kelly’s Advice to Women Considering a Career in Construction
More women are continuing to join the construction workforce, which is a welcomed and much-needed change in the industry.
Kelly’s said she’s proud of these trailblazing women helping to diversify the field and applauds their courage for breaking out of the “boxes” of “typical” female career paths. She admires the bravery it takes to push back against societal “norms.”
“People might be a little afraid. Women…we’re kind of directed to be a teacher or be a nurse. They still want to put us in our boxes,” she said.
But these “boxes” hold no validity. They’re being broken down and tossed aside to make room for the next generation of construction professionals—led by people like Kelly—who let the value of hard work, camaraderie, and determination speak for itself.
Kelly said, “we’re all trying to help each other out and better ourselves, and the world—so let’s do it together.”