Mann Hall at Purdue University.
such collaborative disciplines that I think our staff didn’t want to work from home. TZL: What role does your family play in your career? Are work and family separate, or is there overlap? DB: I worked for five years before I hired my husband as office manager. He is now COO and a key person in the firm. I have another business that shares his services. My two sons are involved in that business, which is extremely successful. I’d like to think everything I learned running Brenner Design has helped lead to the success of the second venture. TZL: What skills are required to run a successful practice? What do you wish you knew starting out that you know now? DB: I didn’t knowwhat I didn’t know. I wish I would have taken bookkeeping or accounting in college. That would have been helpful. Also, I should have taken marketing classes. Luckily, I’m a fairly good writer and very visual so I’ve been able to create successful marketing materials and proposals. TZL: What type of leader do you consider yourself to be? DB: I’m very detail oriented. I can multitask and am able to keep on top of a large number of projects and clients. I believe I am fair. I care about our staff and have several who have been with the firm for more than 20 years. I care about my clients and about doing the right thing. Some say I should have been a lawyer when it comes to negotiation.
PAVING THE WAY, from page 7
have been able to work on high profile projects. Hopefully I’ve paved the way for women in this profession. TZL: What advice would you give to a woman who wants to start an AEC firm today? DB: Make sure you love what you do. Being a business owner is hard and you must have the support of your family. Hire slowly and fire fast. Continually learn. Get involved in the community. Don’t take no for an answer. Market constantly and celebrate your successes! TZL: How has COVID-19 permanently impacted your firm’s policy on telecommuting? DB: We only had one staff member who worked from home. Everyone else stayed in the office the entire time. Our workstations are more than eight feet apart and we kept the office clean. We did modify computers, so that if we needed remote access, it was available. Architecture and interiors are (which was named Mann Hall) and the first woman architect to design a building at Ball State University (Ron & Joan Venderly Football Complex).” “I was the first woman architect to design a building at Purdue University
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THE ZWEIG LETTER MARCH 14, 2022, ISSUE 1432
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