EMPATHY, from page 7
constructors have plenty of opportunities in a variety of industries, but to use our skills in the service of mankind, helping other people and improving their lives – it just doesn’t get any better than that. They get excited about the challenges – the difficult and technical work – but it’s also so incredibly rewarding to do. The satisfaction of knowing that we are in some way contributing to everyone’s lives – that’s priceless. TZL: When you identify a part of your business that is not pulling its weight in terms of profitability or alignment with the firm’s mission, what steps do you take, and what’s the timeline, to address the issue while minimizing impacts to the rest of the company? Goldschmidt: This concept is almost entirely foreign to me – the idea that a portion of the business might not be pulling their weight. I think it’s because we have senior principals on our executive committee running each of the services we provide, who are all so closely engaged with the operations of their business units, that it’s not really been an issue for us. While I’m the titular president of this company, we run under a very collaborative model, and do all our planning and evaluation as a team. If we found a unit in trouble, we would all dig in together to help solve the problem. “People often need a message they can believe in, and when you have staff who continue to reinforce and pass down the same practices to a new generation of architects and engineers, the firm’s legacy will live on. It becomes part of your culture.” TZL: Have you had a particular mentor who has guided you – in school, in your career, or in general? Who were they and how did they help? Goldschmidt: For me, several people come to mind, each of them taught me a key principle that I use every day. ❚ ❚ Andy Hahn was an architect I worked with at Bristol Myers Squibb. His door was always open, and he always made it seem as if my problems and questions were the most important thing he was dealing with. ❚ ❚ Tom Lyon was the VP of Global Engineering at BMS, and he taught me the value of humility, and listening to others. When I was young, I thought that Tom didn’t have an opinion, maybe didn’t have the technical knowledge to contribute to the conversation, it was only later that I realized he was smart enough to listen to others before solidifying his opinion. ❚ ❚ The last is Sterling Kline, an industry icon, whose unique ability to find and bring out the best in everyone he worked with is something I strive to emulate to this day. Sterling is an expert who never makes the conversation about him, he’s always seeking to elevate others. Towarnicki: I think mentors come in many forms – some teach us what or how to do things, and from others we
Some of the Genesis team enjoying a happy hour together.
learn what not to do – it all contributes to who we’ve become as leaders. ❚ ❚ Walter E. Greene was a professor of mine in college. Walt worked for a construction management firm and he hired me one summer as “Clerk of the Works” on a project he was running. He taught me to pay attention to details and to have a keen awareness of my surroundings on a construction site. It was also that summer that it clicked for me how a drawing became realized in the field. ❚ ❚ Charlie Johnsrud was founder of Johnsrud Architects (now Bergmann). Charlie gave me entry into the pharma bio industry, and it was there that I learned and honed my skills as a lab planner and architect. Charlie had a knack for analyzing complex data and presenting results and solutions in a way that made it easy for a client to understand, a practice that I learned and still emulate today. TZL: A firm’s longevity is valuable. What are you doing to encourage your staff to stick around? Goldschmidt: It’s not one thing, but if I had to boil it down, I think I would say that it’s building a culture that people stay engaged with. It includes how we treat people; it includes the kind of challenging/exciting work that we have; it includes how we compensate them; it includes how we help them to grow. Towarnicki: The hardest part of our job is the replication of best practices. We are fortunate enough to have many staff who have “stuck around” since the company was founded. I think they are still here because they believe in the message – provide quality service – and live by example. People often need a message they can believe in, and when you have staff who continue to reinforce and pass down the same practices to a new generation of architects and engineers, the firm’s legacy will live on. It becomes part of your culture. Sometimes the message is simply, “let me show you” or “we do it like this.”
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THE ZWEIG LETTER AUGUST 30, 2021, ISSUE 1406
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