Cement Market Manager Brooke Smartz has been elected a Fellow of the American Concrete Institute (ACI) for her contributions to the work of ACI.
Through her work and leadership positions, Brooke has promoted concrete education and sustainability on a national and local level with the ACI and many other organizations.
Growing up working in her parent’s concrete construction company, Brooke had a passion for the field and knew that she wanted to create her own path in the industry. After completing her civil engineering program at the Colorado School of Mines she was recruited on campus by Holcim for a cement Technical Service training position. She was intrigued by the opportunity to work for a cement company because it offered a variety of customers to work with and an opportunity to work in product development as well as travel.
While interviewing for her first job, Brooke was also completing her concrete senior design project at Mines. Her interviewer asked what type of cement she was using, and Brooke remembers answering that she had no idea.
“I was honest about it, and that’s something I’ve held throughout my career,” she said. “There’s a lot of people who don’t know what cement really is (an ingredient of concrete) or how it’s made, and it's important to educate people on this. It’s an integral part of the construction industry and our world.”
Brooke began her career as a technical service engineer in Colorado and then Utah. When an opportunity to return to Colorado for the same position with more experience presented itself, Brooke happily made the move. A few years later she interviewed for the role of manager of sustainable products and this position granted her the opportunity to work on the development and market introduction of blended cements.
“We are really on the forefront of sustainability since before it became what it is today,” Brooke said. “Sustainability is so important to me, and it’s great to see the progress we’ve made and the fact we are industry leaders in it.”
Something that has always drawn Brooke to the job is the people. “People in the industry have a lot of passion, and I have learned a lot from people I work with for which I am grateful,” she said. Having been with the company for 25 years, she’s been able to witness firsthand how Holcim has evolved and continues to do so. She says, “to me that’s what has kept it interesting, how the industry has evolved and how we have evolved. It continues to challenge me.”
Brooke says the fascinating thing about the concrete industry is that if you dream something it can be made. “Just about anything you imagine,” she said. “Concrete is so versatile and can be colored or shaped into anything you imagine.” However, she said her favorite has to be the Pantheon in Rome. She is fascinated by the construction of it, especially for the time it was built, and that there’s so much that we’re still learning today about concrete made centuries ago.
When she’s not working Brooke enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter, along with their two Australian Shepherds. She’s the manager of her daughter’s competitive soccer team, and the family likes to spend time outdoors and traveling. She also spends time volunteering with various organizations and enjoys visiting her sister’s classroom to talk with students about her work.
“I always thought I wanted to be a teacher,” she said. “I love to see how interested kids are and the questions they ask.” Brooke is also involved in Transportation & Construction GIRL (TCG), an organization in Colorado to get girls interested in careers in these industries. “I am inspired by their curiosity. I learn more than they do from their questions and engagement to learn. It gives me hope for the future!” she said.