Q & A with Mary Zimmerman

Q & A with Mary Zimmerman 

Role: DBE Support Services Program Manager

Mary Zimmerman Headshot - Government Contracting
Mary Zimmerman, DBE Support Services Program Manager

Q: Tell me about your job and how it contributes to the overall goals of CIRAS to help companies prosper.

I work with small construction companies, listening to their unique challenges and goals. This enables me to connect them with tailored resources and solutions focused on fostering their success and growth within the industry. Whether it’s specialized training or tapping into strategic networking or partnerships, I aim to empower these companies with the tools and knowledge they need to thrive. Directly or indirectly, I want to enrich the landscape of the construction sector in Iowa.

Q: What skills or experiences have prepared you for this job?

Experiences and the guidance of many people have shaped my journey to this role. Two mentors come to mind:

  • Mike Ness, whose influence extended beyond the realm of purchasing, instilled in me the values of integrity and ethical conduct, which have served me well in all aspects of my professional journey.
  • Daniel Apatiga, an Iowa DOT facilities architect, was fun to work with and instrumental in helping me gain experience and understanding in new construction and renovation projects.

I am also grateful for the leadership involvement in the customer service initiative at Mary Greeley Medical Center. Serving in this capacity deepened my understanding of the importance of exceptional customer service. This equipped me with the tools and mindset I try to integrate into my professional life.

Q: What types of companies do you work with?

I work with a diverse array of companies spanning the construction spectrum. This includes traditional construction entities such as general contractors, concrete specialists, HVAC technicians, electricians, etc., but also extends to service providers such as cleaning companies, architects, environmental researchers, clearing and grubbing, traffic control, etc.

Q: What opportunities for advancement are available for companies by working with CIRAS?

Well – this will sound like a commercial for CIRAS! Collaborating with CIRAS opens a gateway to boundless opportunities for advancement for companies across various industries. Whether it’s accessing cutting-edge technologies, implementing innovative strategies, or tapping into specialized training and consulting services, the possibilities are virtually limitless.

Q: How do you stay updated on the latest developments or trends in manufacturing/government contracting?

I could give you a sophisticated answer, but it boils down to – Reading. Listening. Asking questions. Attending webinars, and conferences, talking to industry experts, etc. Listening some more.

Integrating the gathered information and discerning optimal strategies for its application in assisting companies.

Q: What is the best part of your job?

Each day presents fresh challenges and opportunities, compelling me to think quickly and creatively. I thrive on the dynamic nature of my work, where problem-solving becomes a “puzzle-solving” adventure, and every interaction is an opportunity to “connect the dots” and forge innovative solutions. What truly amplifies my gratitude is the support system provided by resources within CIRAS and outside of our organization. Collaborating within this network isn’t just beneficial—it’s essential. It’s through these partnerships and access to expertise that enables us to help companies thrive. I don’t just work—I play because every challenge is a chance to learn, grow, and make a meaningful impact with the backing of a supportive community.

For more information, contact Mary Zimmerman at maryz@iastate.edu or 515-450-1278.