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Elizabeth Bellsey Marketing and Business Development Coordinator BAM Architecture Studio

Elizabeth Bellsey
Pam Cole, Principal of BAM Architecture Studio, led an informative panel discussion with three distinguished players at the forefront of the A/E/C Industry: Gretchen Bank of Cosentini Associates, Ross Cole of BAM Architecture Studio, and Maxinne Leighton of WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff. The panel discussion focused on key experiences that led each speaker to be the creative leaders they are today, and how they see the industry changing now and in the future.

[expand title=”Click here to read more about the May 2015 Leadership Lunch…”] Pam’s initial question invited the speakers to share experiences that shaped who they have become, and allowed them to enhance their skills as leaders. Maxinne discussed how she learned to deal with the unexpected through her involvement after both September 11th as part of the initial master planning team and Superstorm Sandy, specifically in terms of the on-the-ground facilitation, resiliency efforts through her work and outreach pursuits as well as, along with Gretchen Bank, serving as a member of the writing and editorial team for the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) Post-Sandy Initiative Policy Report Building Better, Building Smarter: Opportunities for Design and Development. The opportunity to work with an innovative tech company on projects that pushed the boundaries of videoconferencing allowed Ross to notice how architectural services influence and shape emerging technologies, and how technologies influence and shape architecture. Gretchen’s motivators were similar to Maxinne’s; after 9/11, she led the AIANY’s New York New Visions editorial team to produce Principles for the Rebuilding of Lower Manhattan. With Maxinne, she was one of the editors of the AIANY’s Post-Sandy Initiative Report, and discussed how the use of technology was able to bring people together after Sandy via the crowdsourcing work of the Occupy Sandy movement. Expanding on the point above, Pam’s next question focused on the changes these three leaders have seen in the industry. All three agreed that major changes include how the client and design team interact, and how technology increases transparency. After the recent Great Recession, there has been a shift away from teams developed with the architect as prime, and what used to be principal-to-client interaction now includes direct client interaction with other firms involved in the project. While clients were not as engaged one-on-one with individual members of the design team, through emails between the client, architects, engineers and other consultants, there is more interaction with clients at all levels of the profession, from the most senior to the most junior professionals. The recession also affected clients significantly, who, like the A/E/C firms serving them, have had to do more with fewer resources. This has changed the procurement process at many levels, including how RFPs are structured, and faster required response times. One result is that teaming has become much more complex, coupled with a trend of firms lowering fees prior to final deadlines. One interesting, and perennial, issue that was raised is that firms have to consider how to maintain their identities and professional integrity in the midst of these changes. Speakers Gretchen Bank, Associate AIA, Director of Business Development, Cosentini Associates: Gretchen is a senior AEC professional committed to finding appropriate solutions for cities and the built environment. For 25+ years, she has led integrated marketing and communications for global architecture and engineering firms KPF, SOM, Perkins Eastman, DEGW (now AECOM), and Cosentini Associates. She chaired AIANY’s award-winning Marketing & Communications Committee, producing on-trend programs on strategic business/marketing topics, and taught the marketing/business development segments of AIANY’s Architects’ Fast-Track Leadership series. Gretchen was one of the editors of the AIANY-led Post-Sandy Initiative Policy Report Building Better, Building Smarter: Opportunities for Design and Development. After 9/11, she led New York New Visions/AIANY’s editorial team to produce Principles for the Rebuilding of Lower Manhattan. Ross Adam Cole, AIA, IFMA, Co-Founder, Principal, BAM Architecture Studio: Ross co-founded BAM Architecture Studio after winning the New Enterprise Award of New York University’s Stern Graduate School of Business. His clients include well established and emerging names in the corporate, healthcare, science and technology worlds. He’s led design teams that continue to push the envelope on trends, from incubator labs to virtual conferencing to the first hybrid operating suite in the U.S. Prior to starting BAM, he accumulated knowledge while at Davis Brody Bond, Gensler and Perkins & Will. Daily, he continues to create, question and delight those with whom he works. Maxinne Rhea Leighton, Associate AIA, Northeast Region Business Development & Marketing Manager, WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff: Maxinne Leighton has held leadership roles in design firms for the past twenty years. As the Northeast Region Marketing & Business Development lead at WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, she directs and implements the strategy and planning for new business in ten offices. Writer and researcher for the bi-weekly sustainability publication Resilience DART (formerly Sandy DART), Maxinne was a member of SCAPE/Landscape Architecture Living Breakwaters Team for HUD’s Rebuild by Design, as well as having been part of the writing and editorial team for the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) Post-Sandy Initiative Policy Report. She has facilitated numerous panels at the United Nations, The American Institute of Architects, Society of Marketing Professionals and at Museum of the City of New York, on transportation and infrastructure. She serves on both the New York American Institute of Architects’ Oculus and Design for Risk and Reconstruction (DfRR) Committee; ACEC awards committee; and is a doctoral student in Leadership & Change at Antioch University. Planner/Facilitator Pamela J. Cole, MBA, Co-Founder, Principal, BAM Architecture Studio: Pam co-founded BAM Architecture Studio in 2000 after 20+ years as a business leader. She created BAM realizing the importance of the business aspects of an architecture practice, and her success is manifest in the consistent and stable growth BAM has experienced. Her business acumen has been described in Success magazine, broadcast on CNBC, and published in several national industry magazines. She regularly appears at public speaking engagements on marketing and competitive intelligence in the New York area. Approaching each day with a beginner’s mind provides Pam with fresh insights and perpetual growth opportunities.[/expand]