The Hanbury team.
we have incredible talent, so we’ll always be really good. To attract the best and brightest, we have to provide opportunities for them to lead. Sometimes this puts them in a position to experience something unexpected. Most times they over- perform, but at times, they can make mistakes. As firm leaders, these are our most important moments. Our leadership always responds to these challenges with support, guidance, and mentorship. We never beat-up people for their mistakes. “Many of our most talented people have a difficult time finding where they fit in. To attract and keep our talent, we need to be more relevant – adding intrinsic value to every client, project, and initiative we lead.” TZL: Ownership transition can be tricky, to say the least. What’s the key to ensuring a smooth passing of the baton? What’s the biggest pitfall to avoid? DK: In my experience, ownership transition is the biggest pitfall. In small- to medium-sized firms, first generation owners tend to hold onto the large share of the firm and seldom groom the next generation of owners. In larger firms, there are often surges of success and growth around markets or a robust economy where multiple leaders contribute in meaningful ways. This can create an enormous burden on the next generation of leadership to be able to pay-off the shares of the retiring leadership that benefit most financially from the rapid growth. I’ve seen first-hand how improper preparation has led to a sharp downturn of a very successful firm. Firm leadership roles should not be transitioned based on those who can afford to “pay to play” or longevity. Rather, they should be merit-based. Hanbury has benefited from a transition plan that included transitioning to an ESOP. We are now a 100 percent ESOP.
EMPOWERING TALENT , from page 7
London, Brazil, and Lisbon. As the program has visited locations around the globe, the photography, sketches, and rich experiences are shared with the broader firm in special presentations. These shared experiences influence all of our projects. 2. The Nicholas E. Vlattas Summer Scholar Program. Over the past five years, we’ve expanded this program to include an immersive, two-month long project that the scholars curate and lead. We provide housing, training, design trips, and special project opportunities to ensure the program is attractive and open for a diverse student population nationally and internationally. The program engages and nurtures the entire firm and their research projects often engage with our local communities and the design community. The program has attracted more than 60 scholars from 26 prestigious schools of architecture. This past year, we had more than 125 applicants for 10 positions. 3. The S. Michael Evans Design Medalist. This program invites distinguished members of architecture, design, and planning academia to engage with our staff for several weeks during the summer. The program supports our belief in lifelong learning, research, and continuous growth. Each medalist provides an opportunity for Hanbury to benefit from an academic lens while providing an opportunity for professors to connect to the profession. Medalists spend time presenting their work and research, critiquing work, and delivering lectures. TZL: It is often said that people leave managers, not companies. What are you doing to ensure that your line leadership are great people managers? DK: For us, the “no jerks rule” prevails. Architecture is a tough profession that requires a lot of human interaction, skill, patience, and experimentation. We’ll never be perfect, but
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THE ZWEIG LETTER FEBRUARY 27, 2023, ISSUE 1478
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