FOR THE ARCHITECT

NAME/TITLE: Judy Wert, cofounder of executive search firm Wert & Co.

New York-based Wert & Co. matches mid to senior-level executives in architecture, industrial design, fashion, and other creative disciplines with companies in search of leaders. Judy Wert describes her role as "a little bit of a psychologist, a little bit of an administrator, a little bit of a trend marketer, and a little bit of a mother hen."

  • The war for talent between organizations and across the economy has become far more aggressive. Design is no longer a backseat driver. Design has become respected: Look at the iPhone.
  • [A strong candidate in today's market:] Results-oriented; business perspective; global awareness; good, sound business judgment.
  • Education does matter?that's the foundation of how somebody thinks and grows their knowledge. In architecture, credentials do speak loudly.
  • A rßsumß is a document; that's all it is. Be clear, concise, and do spell check. The portfolio work is what will speak to the talent.
  • You need to think of a little bit of theater when you're putting together your portfolio. Are you telling a story? Have you thought through the pacing? Can someone see the heart of the work? Separate what you think is interesting from what's going to be interesting to someone who may have limited time.
  • Sometimes people need to make hard decisions about what their priorities are. Money? A potential mentor? A project? What are their most important criteria? I ask that question from the get-go. It's never been my experience that architects make decisions on money [alone], because they probably wouldn't have picked architecture.

    FOR THE FIRM LEADER

    NAME/TITLE: Gay Herron, management consultant, Eureka! Learning Tools

    Herron is currently working with HOK at its headquarters in St. Louis, Mo., on an employee retention and development initiative. She also helped create a formal mentoring program for HOK. Herron has taught at Washington University in St. Louis and worked with clients including the FBI and numerous Fortune 100 companies.

  • HOK was my first time working with architects. My biggest revelation was that, as people move through their [architectural] careers, they still are involved with the actual project work of the firm. In a corporation, satisfaction comes from the more people you manage, more visibility in the organization that kind of thing.
  • On the other hand, all employees have some very basic questions they want answered. What do you want me to do? How well am I doing it? What do I get out of it?
  • About five years ago, each of the HOK offices developed a mentoring program, and interested people in the office were matched up with mentees. They had to set goals, and at the midpoint and the end, we did a check-in as to how well it was going. People responded to it very well. But time is always the enemy of mentoring.
  • I think the recognized leaders are those [for whom] coaching and mentoring are equally important as providing architectural expertise.
  • For people who are in their 50s, there was really no expectation of support. Many worked with the same company all their lives. [The thinking was,] 'If I do a great job and am loyal, my employer takes care of me.' Now employees are responsible for developing themselves. They naturally gravitate toward [workplaces that have] a support system.