Announcing 2022 Promotions
At Ayers Saint Gross, we know that everything we achieve is a result of our creative and hard-working team. We are grateful to all of our employee-owners for sharing their dedication and talent to help us grow and push forward. Today, we congratulate 21 of these outstanding individuals on their well-deserved promotions.
To recognize their career achievements, we have asked our new principals, associate principals, senior associates, and associates to reflect on the great advice they have received throughout their careers or the words of wisdom they would share with those who are just starting out. We hope that their collected wisdom will inspire and guide the next generation of design leaders.
Adam Bridge: Mentorship is not a formula. It’s wonderful how much effort is put into creating a structure for mentorship but it’s never a substitute for seeking out guidance when you need it and who you need it from. Everything about someone’s career is one’s own responsibility, but I do think we forget that. You want to be the author of your own career. You need to find your mentor, you need to seek out the work you want to do, and you need to bring your passion to the job.
Cooper Melton: The best advice I can offer is to be curious and ask questions. Professional design is built on a deep foundation of skillsets and knowledge, and nobody expects any one individual to know everything. A humble and inquisitive attitude builds trust, furthers expertise, and opens doors to discovery.
Shannon Dowling: The field of design is so vast that every person, no matter their interests or intersectional identity, can find their fit. Think about what inspires you, what you spend time doing when you are not working, and how those interests overlap with the profession. And then charge ahead by bringing your authentic self and natural passions with you into your projects. Both your clients and your mental health will be better served when your passion and projects overlap.
Carolyn Krall: Find a mentor (or mentors) by reaching out to a principal or more senior architect you respect and making a connection. Traditionally a mentor takes someone ‘under their wing’ who reminds them of themselves. This aspect of human nature has often been cited as a barrier for women and people of color, so you may need to make the first move. If you are aware of a common interest, speak up when they mention it. Or better still, say something appreciative to them about their work or something they’ve said — just expressing gratitude for the opportunity to work with them will do wonders to open up a line of communication.
Doug Satteson: Remember that projects are long, complex, collaborative efforts, and it is important to not only listen to what the team members (owners, consultants, contractors) are saying but to really understand what they’re saying.
Allison Wilson: Your time is your most precious gift. Be intentional in how you invest it in yourself, your family, and your projects.
Meghann Boosinger: One of the best pieces of advice I’ve gotten is from Jim Wheeler, former president of Ayers Saint Gross. ‘If you want something, just ask for it.” It sounds so simple, but it’s so easy to forget. And it can be applied not only to your career, but also life in general as well.
Allie Carlson: Make sure you are the driver of your own career. Architecture as an industry has so many different paths and it’s easy as a young professional to just follow the path given to you by those you work with. It is important to take a step back and really decide for yourself what you’re good at and what you want to be doing and take the necessary steps to move your career in that direction.
Matt Doeller: The best advice I have received is to try it and follow up with questions. I have found that one of the best ways for me to grow and learn is by taking that advice to heart. Picking up redlines is easy; fumbling through a detail and then discussing it with somebody more experienced will teach me a lot more.
Vicki Fleming: The best career advice I received was follow your heart … and everything else will fall into place!
Will Kenton: Don’t be afraid to make a lot of mistakes and ask too many questions. As Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” I’ve also learned the importance of building close relationships and open communications. This allows honest dialogue, shared ideas, and constructive criticism to flow freely.
Marie McKenna: I would encourage someone who is just starting out in their career to approach every task as an opportunity to apply their interests and passions to the problem at hand. Find what you enjoy doing and make that your focus.
Christine Pappert: The best career advice I have received was also the best personal advice I have received: advocate for yourself. Communication and self-advocacy can highlight your strengths, showcase your value, and let others know you care.
Phil Raguindin: The best career advice I’ve received is a pretty simple, but important, tip: Don’t work in a vacuum. Architecture is a collaborative process and ongoing dialogue. Getting this guidance early on in my career really broke me out of my shell. Young architects and designers should always ask questions and engage the team in order to improve themselves and create the best solutions. And I’ve found that this advice is especially useful now in the hybrid work environment where communication is key.
Tim Smiroldo: Don’t take design input for granted, whether from fellow architects, engineers, or other consultants. Investigate that input every chance you get. That information doesn’t have to be challenged, but simply ask the question, “Why is it drawn that way?” It can open the door to better design solutions, deepen your knowledge of building systems, or lead down a road (or rabbit hole) you otherwise would have never encountered. Every line on the paper and every word in the specifications, no matter how small, has a purpose. Understanding that purpose makes better drawings, better design execution, and a better architect.
Abby Thomas: It’s ok to make mistakes and you will make mistakes. It will feel like a lot of what you learned in school is out the window, but in time, you will see it all come together. Be patient, consult your coworkers, stay involved in professional activities to get other perspectives. Ask a lot of questions and be curious. It shows you care and are engaged and learning. And most importantly, be confident — not arrogant, but confident — that you can do whatever you put your mind to.
Laura Wheaton: Don’t be afraid to let your career goals evolve and change over time. My job today is not even close to what I said I’d wanted to do when I graduated, but it’s fascinating, exciting, and aligns with the reasons I got into design: to advance sustainability and improve quality of life for others.
Denise Clapp: The best advice I ever received was from Jim Wheeler, former president of Ayers Saint Gross. His advice was to always look at the big picture. It’s easy to get into the weeds in working on a project or answering a question, but it’s important not to lose sight of the purpose of the task and how it impacts things on a larger scale.
Estefania Vasquez-Domme: Always try to learn something new that will help you out in your career. We should never stop trying to grow. There is always someone you can learn from so never be afraid to ask questions. Always look for new challenges to expand your skillset.
Jess Lewis: I’d say my best advice for other people starting out in a design field is to not be afraid to ask questions or mention if things aren’t going smoothly. I feel like there is a lot of pressure when you first get out of school to nail every task that comes your way, so there is a tendency to button up and not communicate. However, communication is really the foundation to engage your mind and continue to grow as you start your career.
Sarah Wright: As I’ve started my career in the design field, and especially coming out of grad school, I’m grateful to have found a workplace and firm culture that allows me to get my hands dirty in different types of projects right away and adjust my career path as I begin to figure out exactly what I enjoy doing. I think there is often a push to follow the straight trajectory of going from architecture to architect, but knowing that there is so many different things in between and outside of that trajectory has allowed me to better shape my career and continue to do the things that I truly enjoy about design. I would encourage others to look for a firm or workplace that fosters that flexibility and growth as well.