PROVIDING OPPORTUNITIES , from page 7
of the future, and helps leaders envision the possibilities of diverse, equitable, and inclusive businesses. We’re just about to publish our revised EDI Strategy which maps out the outcomes we’re striving to achieve in the next three years. Together, we’ve developed a roadmap that defines our strategy to advance diverse talent in the firm; provide continuous EDI learning and understanding, evolve the MG2 culture to reflect EDI, and engage the profession and the community in support of EDI and social justice issues. Today, we’re focused on what will have the greatest impact on our profession, and in our practice; a targeted effort to change the representation of Black architects in our profession. The imbalance is so historically pervasive, and we knowwe need to dedicate efforts wholeheartedly to howwe engage in education relative to architecture programs, HBCUs, and even primary education. In that light, MG2 has recalibrated all our giving efforts toward those centered on EDI, including revising strategies for the MG2 Foundation. This has extended to our commitments with scholarships as well as design and arts organizations. “Destination-worthy spaces whose composition can positively change the lives of their residents, visitors, and surrounding neighborhoods is human- centered design in action.” TZL: It is often said that people leave managers, not companies. What are you doing to ensure that your line leaders are great people managers? MS: Our managers are the lynchpin. Through the years, we’ve provided leadership coaching and structured resources to our managers, giving them the tools to effectively connect with and support their staff and pass their knowledge on to the next generation. Empathy is a huge part of this equation, as are candor, transparency, and consistent communication. This is why even when managers are really busy with project work, it’s even more critical for them to prioritize connecting with their teams. Our managers embody our “people make the place” mantra; they reiterate to their staff the importance of taking paid time away, putting mental health and family first, and asking for help when it’s needed. Working remotely has presented an interesting challenge to our managers, as it negated the “water cooler effect” and opportunities for impromptu check-ins. To help emphasize the importance this year, a manager’s ability to positively affect their team’s effectiveness and retention will be a line item on every leader’s performance review. This ensures we continue to be attentive and nimble. TZL: Sustainability is built into your firm’s culture. When you set out to design the plan for MG2’s formal framework for sustainability, tell me a little about how you got there. MS: The integration of sustainability in our practice has been an evolving strategy for MG2. When it came time to formalize a
MG2’s Rose Hill project in Kirkland, WA. It’s one of the largest multi-family residence projects in the Seattle area. © Plomp
framework and start documenting our intentions in design with data-driven precision, there was buy-in from all sides. We knew from the get-go that the effort needed to be all or nothing: We couldn’t just settle on a handful of sustainability- centric designers, teams, or projects; the entire firm, our contractors, and our clients needed to be involved. Initiatives like an annual internal waste and energy audit at our Seattle office keep our own habits as a firm top-of-mind, allowing us to better ourselves as a firm and live what we preach. Driving our efforts are principal Mark Taylor AIA, LEED AP, and our Sustainability Leadership committee, who have set up and actively track our sustainability pilot projects. Additionally, they work with our Sustainability Forum team to help educate the firm on new tools, technologies, and more. As we continue to evaluate and evolve our firm’s sustainability action plan, MG2 has committed to going above and beyond the goals outlined by AIA’s 2030 challenge by adding two more of our own: we’re also focused on water consumption and materials selection. In addition to becoming proud signatories of the AIA Materials Pledge, MG2 has created our own rigorous Materials Evaluation System. Using a stoplight structure, specialists like our materials librarian, Candon Murphy, analyze and rank every vendor, product, and material we use. We adhere to the highest attainable sustainability standards for a better future. 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? MS: The first priority is to ensure that those surrounding you are trusted and have strengths that complement your own. Replacing a leader who “does it all” with someone who may be inexperienced in critical areas can make for a rocky transition. Then, of course, you have to find the right leader. I feel it’s an intentional career path, and future leaders with ambitions to run a company must be obsessive about the process. But it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Becoming a company leader is a journey, evaluating your progress toward every year. The biggest pitfall to avoid – at any point along the way – is to think that you’ve got it figured out.
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THE ZWEIG LETTER MARCH 21, 2022, ISSUE 1433
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