40 Under 40

Highlights from the AEC industry discussion

Earlier this month, I participated in the SMPS presents “BD+C’s 40 Under 40” panel along with honorees Daniel Ulbricht of Leopardo Companies, Josh Greenfield of Primera Engineers, Jason Chandler of Epstein and moderator Robert Cassidy editorial director of Building Design+Construction.

For those that couldn’t make the event, here’s a quick wrap-up of the discussion topics and my experience with each one.

Business development:
Always an ongoing challenge for AEC firms, the panel talked about navigating generational and cultural differences in business development in a relationship business.

My take: Be kind, friendly and respectful. Above all else, just be yourself.

The panel discussed a training gap between veteran AEC pros and younger workers as well as a gap between those trained in new technology and those that understand fundamentals of the discipline.
My take: I championed internal training as a means for bridgingthe gap. We have experts on our design teams that weigh in with valuable insights. We encourage everyone to participate in the discussion.It’s all about collaboration and sharing of ideas.

BIM pigeonholing:
The panel talked about the fear of being pigeonholed as a design software user.
My take: I talked about how our SWAT team (an internal group of design software experts) has been a key aspect of our BIM rollout and frees up designers to design.  

Career development
The panel discussed the importance of mentors in the design workplace.
My take: I’m in a transitional age group. I still need a mentor and advice on career advancement, but I am also a mentor to others.

Work-Life Balance
The panel talked about the quest for a healthy work-life balance in a day and age when nine-to-five is not a hard line anymore.
My take: It’s not unusual to get back on the computer at night to finish something. The ability to work anywhere sometimes means doing things when they need to be done, often out of the office. I agreed with those who noted that work-life balance is essential for a healthy lifestyle. You tend to be friends with people in the industry.Considering the nature of the profession and the nature of work these days, being an architect is a 24-7 lifestyle. You don’t hang it up when you get home. We care about what we create. It is our art. We have an emotional stake in our projects.

Company Support
Attendees from the marketing side of our industries were interested in our insights regarding marketing the talent and thought leaders at the firm as well as generational attitudes towards marketing techniques.
They wanted to know if technological change in the industry was being pushed by the younger generation, competitors or clients.
My take: If you are a firm that does great work, you are not only going to retain the best clients but you will retain the best talent and grow client relationships. Marketing is an important component of this. If the world knows you for being the expert in amazing design then you will be sought out for amazing design opportunities. But it’s not just the final product that we market, it is the process. Our clients have fun and enjoy designing with us. For example, our workplace group invites our client into our active workspace for meetings. We’ve realized that the design process can be an once-in-a-lifetime event for our clients. We strive to make it exciting and meaningful. We market that.

1 Comment

Write your comment