AW: One reason had to do with the positive buzz on the street. I’d heard about Huntsman through colleagues in New York, who always spoke highly of the firm particularly about the high caliber of the people at the office. After meeting with Huntsman Principals - Sandra Tripp, Sascha Wagner, and Linda Parker, I found that everything I’d heard was true and that I could see myself working side by side with them. I was really drawn to Huntsman’s philosophy as it relates to clients and employees – one that is motivating, entrepreneurial and committed to success through collaboration. I also feel that working within a mid-sized firm allows me to experience and contribute to its growth.
Q: How has being an east coast native and living in NY inspired your design/work?
AW: NYC’s reputation for ‘I need it yesterday’ paired with the intense competition within the design field has always kept me en pointe, especially when it comes to interacting with clients, consultants, vendors, and contractors. Working within a professional service industry – albeit a highly creative one – means having to learn about and anticipating our clients’ needs. Expectations are high and it has shaped my work ethic accordingly.
Q: What is your definition of successful design?
AW: To me, successful design is revealed in two parts: first, when the client walks into the newly-completed space and says, “YES, this is what we were envisioning” and second, a few months down the road and they say that the space works for them and the employees are thrilled to be in the space.
For example, I had an international client who had a presence in New York and a small presence in Long Island. Their goal was to consolidate in NYC, but it became challenging to gain complete buy-in by the Long Island staff. To solve this, the client signed a lease at 2 Penn Plaza, directlyover Penn Station, where staff had immediate access to the office, making it an easy commute for everyone. The overall office design and build-out had an outdoorsy, park theme suggestive of The Highline. We planned an amenity space to include a large ‘market’ that emulated a town hall and had oversized TVs and bleacher seating for social gatherings and all-hands meetings. Raw materials like brick or industrial windows were introduced, along with plantings in the walls; like a city within their space. The space was so well-received that the workspace evolved to hot desking and hot lockers to accommodate the number of employees that opted to work in New York.
Q: What is the most valuable lesson you've learned during your career?
AW: Open communications that support managing expectations, whether it’s the client or your internal team. I like to think of good project management as balancing goals within the “longview” with any immediate milestones that hold priority today. That, and understanding and being receptive to the strengths of a given team. We’re all working together. It’s important to show up and dig in side by side.
Q: Any advice you can offer the junior and mid-level staff as they develop their design careers?
AW: Ownership and communication are key. Own what you do; it’s your name on it, whatever the project or task is. Always communicate - ask questions, even if you think you’re bothering someone, and keeping your team informed.