Renaissance Woman

Enterpreneur, Teacher, Author: Oriel Selver Does It All as a Construction Professional

She didn’t initially set out to become a construction professional, but no matter – these days Oriel Selver is making quite a mark on the industry. Formerly a nurse, Selver now has her own construction business; she teaches NCCER curriculum at Atlanta Technical College; and she’s written a children’s book, with an accompanying song, that introduces youngsters to construction.

Having left her previous career to study HVAC and Construction Management, Oriel looks back and says, “It was the best thing I ever did.” Read on to learn more about her inspiring career change and the success she’s experiencing in the skilled trades.

Where are you from?

I’m originally from Turks and Caicos. I moved to Savannah as a teenager. I moved to Atlanta in 2010 for a fresh start. I was still in nursing then.

How did you get into construction?

My dad has an HVAC company in Turks and Caicos. I asked him what was going to happen to his company when it’s time for him to retire. He told me that he would have to sell it because my brothers weren’t interested [in continuing it]. I told him not to do that, that family legacy was important to me, and I would stop what I was doing to go to school and learn [the trade]. So I enrolled at Atlanta Tech to study HVAC, and later Construction Management. I started around 2015 and finished in 2019.

What did you do after you graduated, and what was it like being in the field for the first time?

I had an internship with Ujamaa Construction, and I had the opportunity to work in Chicago on Barack Obama’s presidential library in 2019. That was a nice experience, just jumping right into the space, because everything was new to me. I think one of the biggest takeaways was leaving my nurturing side at home and taking on a stern attitude. I didn’t have a thick skin at the beginning. It took a while to get to this point.

What brought you back to Atlanta?

I went to work for a black-owned, female-owned general contractor. I was able to do project management and vendor management, and that was a good experience as well. Everything just came together to get me to this point where I’m at now.

And where is that? Tell us about what you’re doing today.

I started my own construction company, Selver & Co. Construction Services, in 2021. I specialize in material takeoff, cost estimates and site supervision for small general contractors. Everything that a project manager would do for a huge GC, I’m doing for the small GCs who don’t have somebody on payroll for that. I also got my first contract with TCSG, teaching NCCER Core at Atlanta Tech.

One of our team members met you at a “Future Builders” event that Construction Ready and NAWIC were partnering on. He was excited to learn you have published a book.

Yes, that’s my baby! It’s called Connie Loves Construction. It was published in 2022. It did so well, I thought it needed something to accompany it, so I wrote a song called Hammers and Nails that’s on Apple Music, Spotify and YouTube. It just gets the kids going.

What do you find most fulfilling about your career in construction?

I think the most fulfilling thing to date has to be training and helping educate the new generation of construction professionals coming behind me. As a business owner, I get the opportunity to venture out and do more than just the [hands-on] work. I get to come to the Construction Ready CareerExpo and SkillsUSA competition, for example. It warms my heart to watch these students. It makes me feel a little bit more at peace knowing that we have people in place to help train the new workforce.

What advice do you have for young women who are considering a career in the skilled trades?

I would encourage them to join an organization like I did. I joined the National Association for Women in Construction and they have helped me in every way. If I have challenges, they are a phone call away. There’s a lot of togetherness with women who are experiencing the same issues. I think having a mentor or an organization you can express your issues with, and your highs, and celebrate each other is very imporant – that’s what NAWIC does for me.

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