The fourth-generation owner of Coghlin Electrical Contractors, Inc., Susan Mailman is a “tell-it-like-it-is” leader in a male-dominated industry. A fair and refreshing voice, whether at work or serving on one of her many boards, Sue has earned the respect of those in her company, her industry, and the community for her particular brand of authenticity, approachability, and the fact that she makes an unforgettable connection with whomever she is interacting with.
Having worked her way up through the company, Sue explained that it wasn’t ever part of the plan to become her father’s successor. Over the years, her father saw that her values of integrity, trust, and dedication to seeing a job through were in alignment with those of the company. “We have always run our company with the highest integrity – for our employees, for our clients,” explained Sue. But she is quick to give credit to those around her, citing her second in command, Christine Kelly, as a huge asset in running the business. Sue has much respect and appreciation for all of her employees, stating in particular that her foremen are some of the smartest and most driven people she knows.
Another unique quality about Sue, as she described to me, is her “no-bullshit” style of communication. Her approach cuts through the clutter and allows everyone focus on the work that needs to get done. She asks hard questions, expects thoughtful answers and always does her part to work towards the best result. When I asked how her employees would describe her, she said, “Honest, fair, and fast,” which she laughingly noted that "fast" may also translate into “impatient” in some cases.
Her collaboration and willingness to roll up her own sleeves is why Sue is asked to serve on so many community and industry boards. Her mentor, Lois Green, long ago advised Sue, “Anytime you are asked to do something, say yes.” While Lois’ point was to emphasize the importance of making sure that women get a seat at the table, Sue embraces the opportunity to work with anyone who genuinely want to move things along and to make things better.
When I asked Sue which brand she would choose if she were to identify one that seemed to embody her work ethic and personality and why, she chose GE. She stated their once famous tagline, “It brings good things to life,” and shared, “That’s what we do with the jobs and the buildings that we create here. I think that we all have a responsibility to help those that are coming behind us.”
For the full interview, click here.