From Connection to Contract: Fostering Multicultural Collaboration at LS3P 

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) play a pivotal role in fostering inclusivity and honoring diverse backgrounds. ERGs stand as a testament to the strength of community and cultural celebration within the workplace. LS3P launched Diseña in April 2023, an ERG with a mission “to invest in the network of Hispanic and Latin American colleagues to promote the cultural diversity and a better professional development of its members.”

The following Q&A between Jeff Floyd, Principal, Natallie Santiago Rodríguez, Practice Professional, and Iván Martínez, Construction Contracts Administrator, explores the tangible benefits and significance of Diseña through the lens of a project opportunity with Spain-based architect, Q+C Architecture and paper packaging company Smurfit Kappa Group.

Continue reading to learn more about how Diseña provided vital support and value by focusing on the importance of bilingual communication.

Jeff Floyd, AIA | Principal 

Can you tell us why you reached out to Diseña? 

I was aware of the formation of Diseña and certainly believed it to be a great idea. With several international clients and projects in the past, I realized how important bilingual communication is in achieving a comfortable working relationship. It ensures collaborative solutions and, most importantly, a greater level of trust among team members. When the opportunity arose to collaborate with a Spanish design architect on the Smurfit Kappa project, I knew that partnering with Diseña would be invaluable.

I have been aware of Natallie’s contribution to the Savannah office’s success and knew her and Iván’s participation in the initial interview would be invaluable. Many of the Smurfit Kappa team have limited or no use of the English language, and Diseña’s fluent Spanish ability was a major differentiator – certainly a significant reason we were awarded the project.

Bringing in a representative of Diseña to a project interview was an innovative thought. Did you consider this being a risk? Was it worth it, and would you do it again? 

I saw Diseña’s role in the interview as a major strength, not a risk at all! Iván’s continued role in this project keeps it moving smoothly and efficiently, and I know we would not be meeting the client’s accelerated schedule without his participation. I certainly intend to do it again, as it opens many opportunities for us in the future. It took a lot of creative initiative to form Diseña, and Smurfit Kappa is proof that it is a great attribute to LS3P.


Natallie Santiago Rodríguez, Assoc. AIA | Practice Professional 

How did you find out about the opportunity? 

Meredith Ray, LS3P’s Marketing Director, contacted me linking the Smurfit Kappa opportunity and their need for someone who spoke Spanish. She quickly put me in touch with Jeff Floyd. Jeff explained the opportunity and how he thought that pairing up with the team members of Diseña would help LS3P tremendously in winning the project. The project involved collaboration with a Spain-based design architect, Q+C Architecture, who didn’t speak much English. To win the project, LS3P needed to demonstrate that they could collaborate effectively with the Spanish design architect, not only with language but also conversion of units from imperial to metric system, amongst other challenges.

What was the interview experience like? 

During the interview, there was a round of introductions, and I was presented as a Diseña representative. As the interview went along, I was asked to translate to Spanish what our LS3P team had mentioned in English. While translating might have been the primary goal, the intent was to deliver the information in a way that would create a connection and relationship with the design architect. The interview went very well, and not to our surprise, we learned a few days later that we had won the opportunity.

That’s great news! What were the next steps after the project was awarded to LS3P? 

The project was moving forward quickly. Jeff mentioned that there was a site visit being scheduled and that it would be beneficial for me to attend. Unfortunately, I was on a deadline that week, making it challenging for me to attend the site visit. Nonetheless, in the spirit of our “One Firm” approach, I thought that Iván Martínez would be a much better candidate for this. He was closer geographically but, more importantly, he is of Spanish origin and had vast experience in working in the Spanish architectural environment. Iván was a much better fit for this opportunity, he had the availability and would continue to reinforce that Diseña is not one person, but a strong and skilled group that represents the Spanish-speaking community within LS3P.


Iván Martínez, PMP | Construction Contracts Administrator 

How did you learn about this new project opportunity? 

When I first heard about the opportunity to join the meeting with our Spanish architects, the client representative in the U.S., the general contractor, and the LS3P team members in our Charlotte and Greenville offices, I recognized it as a chance to contribute within the firm to something larger than my regular responsibilities as a construction administrator. Despite not being initially scheduled for this project, I immediately saw the value in participating. I understood the importance of bridging cultural gaps within our firm, especially in a field as collaborative and diverse as architecture and construction. Therefore, I made it a priority to rearrange my schedule to accommodate this project, recognizing its potential impact on fostering inclusivity and understanding within LS3P.

How did the meeting go? 

Participating in the two-day face-to-face meeting provided invaluable networking opportunities, not only with our internal team, but especially with our client. As a construction administrator with most of my professional construction experience in Spain, I was able to offer ideas and perspectives that might otherwise have been overlooked. I was able to communicate specific terminology with the architects in Spanish, which made them feel that we understood their ideas and made them feel more comfortable in a multicultural working meeting. By actively participating in the discussions and demonstrating our commitment to understanding and integrating the perspectives of our Spanish clients, we were able to strengthen our relationship with them. I then had the opportunity to participate again in the next round of face-to-face meetings, this time including the engineers, and visiting the facility together with the architect and the client. During this round of meetings, the client contacted our team leader, Jeff, for me to be a part of the construction process, as they felt comfortable with me. This personal touch and cultural sensitivity were instrumental in building trust and understanding with our client, which ultimately contributed to the successful closing of the project for our company.

Can you share further lessons you’ve learned from this experience? 

Participation in this project undoubtedly reinforced the importance of diversity and inclusion in our company. Diseña emerged as a crucial asset, providing a platform for understanding and addressing cultural differences, which are increasingly relevant in today’s globalized world. The Spanish-speaking culture at LS3P, through Diseña, has a resource group dedicated to integrating Hispanic, Latinx, and Spanish-speaking employees in general, regardless of country of origin, fostering a more inclusive and collaborative work environment. The experience of working closely with Spanish architects and our team highlighted the immense value of leveraging diverse perspectives to drive innovation and success. Going forward, Diseña will continue to play a key role in enhancing LS3P’s competitiveness and effectiveness in a multicultural environment.


Diseña’s Mission Statement 

Diseña’s mission is to invest in the network of Hispanic and Latin American colleagues to promote the cultural diversity and a better professional development of its members. We aim to DESIGN a meaningful place where people within the Hispanic and Latinx community at LS3P can ENGAGE with each other and where allies are welcome to Learn and Experience.

We chose the word “design” in Spanish to introduce people to the Spanish alphabet using the “ñ” and to align with LS3P’s mission of designing meaningful spaces. We want to focus on that specific mission internally.

Steering Committee:   

  • Linda Melendez-Kilb – LS3P Greensboro
  • Daniela Ayers – LS3P Wilmington
  • Iván Martínez – LS3P Wilmington
  • Jessica Lambert – LS3P Raleigh
  • Natallie Santiago Rodríguez – LS3P Savannah
  • Michael Garcia – LS3P Savannah

About Jeff

An LS3P Board Member and Vice Presiden Jeffrey C. Floyd serves as Principal in the Charlotte office. With over 40 years of experience, Jeff has been recognized as a prominent architect of office buildings for investment and corporate headquarters as well as operations centers in the Carolinas. Jeff is well-versed in team-built project delivery in the investment development arena for mixed-use, suburban, and urban projects. Jeff helps his clients visualize design options, discusses the impacts of each building system on project costs, and works toward optimal solutions that balance function, aesthetics, quality, budget, schedule, and constructability.

Jeff is known for his long-term association with leading investment development clients including The Bissell Companies, Lincoln Harris, Spectrum Properties, and Highwoods. He has been responsible for more than 57 Class ‘A’ office buildings in Ballantyne Corporate Park, alone providing over 4.5 million SF of office space. Ballantyne Corporate Park was awarded the 2010 International Suburban Office Park of the Year by BOMA International and won the 2011 NAIOP Award.

Jeff is a proponent of “partnering” with the owner, owner’s agent, consultants, and construction contractors to build trust, dedication to common goals, and an understanding of each other’s individual expectations.

About Natallie

Associate Natallie Santiago Rodríguez, a graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), joined LS3P in 2016. Originally from Carolina, Puerto Rico, Natallie has developed a diverse portfolio of work including commercial, higher education, and hospitality projects since joining LS3P. She is passionate about designing unique and elevated built experiences that connect users with their immediate context and environment.

Active in her professional community and beyond, Natallie serves as co-chair of LS3P’s Alchemy Knowledge Team and is one of the co-founders of the Hispanic & Latinx employee resource group, Diseña. Her involvement with AIA has included serving as AIA Georgia At-Large Director, AIA Savannah Fellowship Director, NOMA Atlanta Academic Affairs Director, SAR Design Awards committee, amongst others. Natallie is a Leadership Savannah Graduate, and is an active volunteer in local organizations.

About Ivan

LS3P Construction Administrator Ivan Martinez brings over 23 years of project management experience. Ivan is fluent in Spanish and English and has a Bachelor’s Degree in Architectural Engineering from the University of Granada, Spain. Ivan brings skills in project management that include organization to ensure efficiency, quality assurance, facilitation of project communication, regulations and code knowledge, and contract management. His PMP licensure and education allow him to seamlessly blend creativity and engineering expertise, therefore offering innovative problem-solving approaches. Ivan’s attention to detail, flexibility, knowledge, and management skills make him an asset to every project.