Business of Architecture: It’s About People


 AIA Cleveland’s concluding session to their 2022 Series was titled ‘Business of Architecture: It’s About People.’ The event was held on October 6, attended by over 20 guests, held at Vocon, moderated by Nora Hoxha, of Hoxha Design Studio and Co-Chair of the Women in Architecture, Cleveland Chapter with  guest speakers Eric Booth, Ingrid Lamay and Travis Kreidler from Desmone Architects.

This session focused on the company’s employees, creating a healthy work environment and building a well-balanced, productive team and successful architecture practice.
These are my takeaways,

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 My Colleagues and I at Vocon’s Open Bar

As I entered Vocon, I was impressed by the reception area. It had a welcoming lobby,  an impressive well-stocked bar and warmly-lit rooms with different design accents. The evening started  with a happy hour and networking event. I had the opportunity to catch up with my colleagues Jud Kline, Karen Bialosky, Andrew Bennett,and Nora Hoxha. We then enjoyed red Hershey’s kisses, wine and a wide assortment of appetizers.

red hersh

Red Hershey’s Kisses

We then moved on to the event’s main session which was shared by guest speakers Eric Booth – President, Ingrid Lamay – Designer and Travis Kreidler – Principal of Desmone Architects. The session started with the sharing of Desmone’s HR processes, organizational structure, strategic planning tools, their recent growth spurt in the last 3 years, current operation of 3 offices and having a workforce of 45 employees. 

They shared about the need to create a work environment where leaders don’t rule with an iron fist and instead set direction, encourage employees to be creative and take initiative, recognizing each team member’s strengths and mental and emotional health. They also shared the importance of creating a strong and solid company culture, keeping the pipeline of projects flowing, practicing constructive criticism, and using the Predictive Index method; a recruitment technique that sees people as the heart of every organization.

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Beginning of the Session

Image 4_Retouched Round Table Discussion

Round Table Discussion

The event ended with a round table session where we shared our insights about each other’s company culture. I shared about my firm’s culture at MGS Global Group where we create a culture of collaboration, open communication and relationship building. Since our firm mostly operates within a remote setting, I explained how we focus on the health and well-being of our employees by giving them flexible work schedules and freedom and ownership of their work. 

This is ideal for our drafters who deliver our core services of BIM modeling and CAD drafting to architecture and interior design firms. I also shared about the different ways we strengthen our firm’s culture by organizing and providing monthly team lunches, quarterly team outings, mountain resort stays and creating a separate Slack channel for casual conversations that aren’t work-related.

Final Thoughts

Desmone Architects’ presentation was so impressive and inspirational! They should be one of the benchmarks in the AEC industry for best practices. They focus on the well-being of their employees to create a healthy and productive company culture. Following their values, this environment allows the firm to deliver better services to clients and increase client satisfaction. Consistently practicing this culture results in growth and success for the firm, their clients and the entire architecture community. 
I’m proud to be part of the AIA Cleveland Chapter and major kudos to them for concluding their 2022 Business of Architecture Lecture Series. Looking forward to the next one!

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