TZL 1387 (web)



Creating opportunities: Ricky Smith, Jr. President of raSmith (Brookfield, WI), a multi-disciplinary firm of civil engineers, structural engineers, land surveyors, development managers, landscape architects, and ecologists.


W hen Smith joined raSmith, he didn’t know it would turn into a long-term career. He initially had his eye on investment banking and his plan was to spend two years at raSmith and then return to graduate school to pursue an MBA. But when he started working on a large mall development in Pittsburgh, he took a liking to the magnitude of the work and the ability to interact with clients. Today, he has more than 18 years of civil engineering experience leading teams in the design of lifestyle centers, regional malls, and large format retail developments. “In order to be a good leader and run a solid business, I have to hire people I can trust, people who will push me to become better at my job and people who will make raSmith a better company,” Smith says. “I believe in playing to people’s strengths and carving out roles for individuals that will allow their strongest skills to shine. I don’t believe everyone needs to be good at everything.” A CONVERSATION WITH RICKY SMITH. The Zweig Letter: raSmith is a family-owned firm. Did

you always know you’d work in the family business? Was engineering your passion from the get-go or was there ever a different career trajectory you considered? Ricky Smith: Honestly, I didn’t know that I wanted to work at raSmith until after I graduated college. I majored in civil engineering and economics and also took all of the required classes for pre-med because I was unsure of what I wanted to do. When I graduated, I became interested in the financial services industry, specifically investment banking, but found it incredibly difficult to find a job with a large bank in New York City. As my job search continued, the director of the land development services division at raSmith called and offered me a position as I had interned in the division during the previous summer. Looking back, it’s funny because my father didn’t know that I was going to be offered a position to work in his company until after I had already accepted the offer. TZL: What role does your family play in your career? Are work and family separate, or is there overlap? RS: When you work in a family business there’s no


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