Blooming in Balfour Beatty’s Growth Culture
Layli Pietri shares her inspirational journey from jobsite administration to minority business development director
Layli Pietri didn’t take the conventional path to her role as minority business development director for our Mid-Atlantic team. She didn’t start out with an engineering degree or walk in the door with a background in construction. She didn’t know much about the process from blueprint to buildout.
Instead, she came to Balfour Beatty with a willingness to learn and the motivation to develop new skills. She found a nurturing environment and mentoring colleagues in our people-first culture, and the combination has resulted in a rewarding and successful 26-year career with Balfour Beatty. She’s still counting—and now she’s giving back.
Layli built her career working in diverse roles and positions, transitioning from administrative assistant and office manager to purchasing specialist and small business manager. In her current role, Layli is responsible for ensuring compliance with federal, state and local government requirements for subcontracting with small and minority-owned businesses.
Her unexpected journey into this specialized field started when she moved from Alaska to North Carolina and needed a job as a young mother to help support her family. Despite not knowing much about the construction industry, Layli took a leap of faith when she saw a posting for an administrative role at a construction jobsite.
The hiring manager saw something special in Layli. Once onboard, Layli learned quickly, often performing duties outside the scope of her responsibilities. Noticing Layli’s instinctual abilities and willingness to learn, the project manager offered her the office manager position, and a company leader was soon born.
Layli’s career evolution took her to purchasing, where she further honed her skills in cultivating strong supplier relationships. Her supervisor on that team recognized her skills and positive, “can-do” attitude and invested time in teaching her to read blueprints. Layli subsequently studied estimating and was given opportunities to dabble in new skills along the way. She was becoming versed in the full process from bid to build.
As Layli grew in every stage of her career, she credits her colleagues’ belief in her potential and supportive guidance as having made all the difference. Because of her experiences, Layli advocates for mentoring programs not only to empower the next generation of builders with the confidence and skills to advance in their careers but as a vital vehicle to achieve greater diversity and inclusivity within Balfour Beatty and the construction industry.
“I learned from the ‘school of Balfour Beatty,’ and my career grew from there,” Layli explains, noting that each role helped her develop a more holistic understanding of the industry and how she could bring greater value to the organization.
Shifting Gears and Discovering Her Passion
When working in procurement, part of Layli’s responsibilities included overseeing supplier diversity. She soon recognized a need to develop a comprehensive tracking system to more effectively meet diversity, equity and inclusion goals. Layli played an integral role in developing a robust local program and best practices, which she has subsequently shared across the company.
Celebrating her 26th anniversary with Balfour Beatty in December 2021, Layli recognizes that her inspirational career trajectory was not dependent on luck or working alongside colleagues who advocated on her behalf but rather on the company’s culture.
“Continuous improvement is deeply embedded in our DNA,” praises Layli. “Balfour Beatty understands the value in trying something new to learn and grow. And we offer that to people in their careers in a responsible way that is not only beneficial for the individual but also the company.”
Throughout her tenure, Layli has witnessed Balfour Beatty’s passion for advancing the industry—both culturally and operationally—play a critical role in developing relationships of mutual trust and respect with trade partners and suppliers. Thanks to the outstanding outreach efforts of diversity leaders like Layli, Balfour Beatty has established a reputation as a general contractor of choice for minority-owned and small businesses. And, as we mentor these partners, we are strengthening the communities in which we are privileged to live, serve and build.
“As you experience success over time, whether as an organization or an individual,” Layli encourages, “you should be asking: ‘Am I reaching out to help others grow? Who am I helping behind me?’”
Coming full circle from her first days on a jobsite, Layli now mentors others. She proactively develops partnerships with Balfour Beatty teams in other geographies on government contract pursuits and projects. She helps others learn the critical nuances of small and minority-owned business goals that governmental clients establish and how to effectively collaborate with those partners.
In a volunteer capacity, Layli works with numerous organizations including the National Association of Minority Contractors, the Society of American Military Engineers Small Business Council and local Asian, Hispanic and Black Chambers of Commerce. She also serves on the Board of Directors of Washington Building Congress.
But her greatest joy comes from mentoring those right in her own office.
“What keeps me here is the people. So many of us are friends, true friends,” she says. “We care about each other, and there is a tremendous willingness to share knowledge. All you have to do is ask. I hope everyone knows that.”
To learn more about Layli’s exceptional career journey, read her profile in Latinas in Construction. To read in English, open in Chrome and select the Google English translation.