Last month, sources told PEOPLE that Barbara Kavovit had joined the cast of the hit Bravo reality show for its upcoming eleventh season
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Barbara Kavovit and the ladies of The Real Housewives of New York go way back.

Last month, sources told PEOPLE that Kavovit had joined the hit Bravo reality show for its upcoming eleventh season. And while the construction mogul can’t comment on the casting news, she says she’s longtime friends with one of the franchise’s original Housewives.

“I love hanging out with my friend Luann [de Lesseps] — we go way back,” she tells PEOPLE. “I guess people are talking about how we’ve been seen together lately, but we’ve been friends forever. We met when our sons were very little and have been friends ever since.”

Along with de Lesseps, Kavovit will join Ramona Singer, Bethenny Frankel, Sonja Morgan, Dorinda Medley and Tinsley Mortimer on the show.

Kavovit has been photographed filming with the Housewives at a few events, including Frankel’s SkinnyGirl Jeans launch, where she danced alongside Frankel, Morgan and de Lesseps. In October, she was spotted in the background of Frankel’s social media posts during a night in the Berkshires.

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And Kavovit says she has no problem hanging out with women who are known to have strong personalities and opinions.

“I would say I’m definitely a boss,” Kavovit says. “I would say that women and men are afraid of me in some aspects. I don’t see myself as being intimidating, but I’m told I am.”

An entrepreneur, Kavovit spent years leading Anchor Construction, one of the largest female-owned general contracting companies. She’s currently CEO and founder of another construction company, Evergreen Construction, which offers top-to-bottom construction management services to clients in the Big Apple.

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“If you attack something and are passionate, you’ll eventually conquer it,” she says of her career. “I’m still conquering it. Every day is a fight, but I have the drive to keep going. You have to be confident and relentless.”

Under the name Barbara K, Kavovit has also launchedDIYVA, a nationally distributed line of tools marketed toward women, and written two books. She has a third in the works: a novel about a young woman who wants to build the tallest skyscraper in New York City.

Kavovit says she wants to encourage young women to break into her still-male-dominated field and beyond.

“In this business, I learned that you have to be five times better than the male counterpart to be considered equal,” she says. “My goal with young women is always to inspire them. I think this industry is desperate for women.”