Women’s Leadership Summit: Inspiration and Education in Minneapolis

Four LS3P team members recently attended the Women’s Leadership Summit hosted by AIA Minnesota in Minneapolis. The leadership conference, aimed at women architects and designers, featured three days of speakers and events on topics such as harnessing potential, cultivating diversity and inclusion, and leading with authenticity. LS3P’s participants attended a variety of sessions and shared their key conference takeaways, and gathered their thoughts and seeds for further discussion below.

Megan Bowles, AIA, Associate Principal | Raleigh Office & Finance Manager | Architect:
Leaders are charged with the unique and very important task of creating a space in which people canbelong and become.’ It’s not up to the leader to determine which career pathways their team members choose, but to meet people where they are and help them build a foundation to grow into the roles and skills that matter most to them. Leaders can help develop and articulate a shared purpose to unify teams around a common goal. Leaders must then be sure to prioritize and focus on this overarching purpose, and resist the temptation to get sidetracked by tasks which feel urgent but are not important to achieving team goals. Good leaders figure out how to use their influence and their leadership positions to support and invest in others; the ultimate goal of being our best selves as professionals is to give our best to others and help our team members succeed, individually as well as collectively.”

April Mundy, AIA, LEED AP, Architect | Project Manager:
“The most important messages for me were about leading with authenticity, generosity, and purpose. Management is often defined as ‘control,’ but true leadership is rooted in guidance. Successful leadership requires authenticity- leading by example, providing tools, and maintaining balance. Authentic leaders build relationships that foster connection, respect, and trust, and show empathy by leading where people are. Other behaviors of authentic leaders include encouraging and participating in mentorships, seeking diversity and inclusion with both formal and informal mentorships, cultivating situational awareness, modeling good time management skills, delegating efficiently, and communicating clearly about tasks and deadlines. One-on-one check-ins with team members are a valuable tool in listening to team members and helping them be successful with their goals. Good leaders are advocates for and mentors to others– and, by all means, good leaders should find their own advocates and mentors as well. Another phrase that will stick with me: ‘the grass is greener where you water it.’ It’s so important to build a network of people of all backgrounds to create a support structure and life council, and to maintain the values, relationships, and hobbies that make you whole.”

Kyle Novak, Assoc. AIA, Associate | Emerging Professional:
“ ‘Diversity’ has often been codified in the workplace to represent race and gender quotas to be attained.  At its core, though, diversity is a mix of experiences and perspectives, or the ‘differences that make a difference.’  We must reflect on our goals for diversity in the workplace and the differences we wish to see in our corporate cultures.  There are two steps to achieving this reflection: self-awareness and intercultural capacity.  In order to understand others and the different viewpoints they offer, we must first understand ourselves by asking questions such as, ‘Am I part of the dominant culture defining the rules and patterns?  Are my experiences aligned with those with whom I surround myself, or do I challenge their thinking? Do I assume others will react the same way I will to situations?’  Once we have cultivated self-awareness, the next step is ‘other-awareness,’ which is the capacity to understand intercultural differences and identify how they come to be.  Asking ‘what experiences in life have given this person this viewpoint or way of thinking?’ helps us to develop awareness as we reflect on the type of culture we wish to see. Remembering that a culture which is constructed on assumptions is one that has no goals of diversifying, we must be proactive in seeking out the ‘differences that make a difference.’”

Kameron King, AIA, Senior Associate | Architect:
“In a workshop with Alethea Fitzpatrick, we explored the social structures that influence our understanding of leadership and how we can use our own values to define our leadership path forward.  There are three main steps to aligning your leadership with your values: assessing your challenges, removing obstacles, and getting in alignment. By naming our challenges, we can reflect on their structure and the most effective methods of dismantling them.  Dismantling the obstacles in your path allows you to focus on areas of your work that are truly meaningful to you, and defining your personal values allows you to identify the areas in which you naturally excel.  In doing this, you can identify your unique abilities, design your own leadership path forward, and ultimately ‘impress by doing less.’ The more we can focus our energy away from negative limiting beliefs and towards tasks that align with our values, the more likely we are to contribute to projects in meaningful ways and avoid burnout.  We must also promote these ideas for our teammates and recognize that we all struggle with different challenges and limiting beliefs, and we all have our own unique set of values that support different aspects of the profession.”

About Megan

Associate Principal Megan Bowles serves as Operations and Finance Manager in LS3P’s Raleigh office focusing on continuous improvement processes including professional development opportunities, project delivery, and market sector growth. A magna cum laude graduate of NC State University’s College of Design, Megan also leads the office’s corporate commercial team and works extensively in the faith-based practice area. Her portfolio includes over one million SF of core and shell construction, and over 500,000 SF of large interior upfits. Megan is currently serving on the AIA NC Board as Director of Membership, as an ACE Mentor and Board Member, and as Advisor for AIA Triangle’s Leadership Forum.

About April

April Mundy serves as Project Manager in the firm’s Savannah office. April is passionate about creating special design moments for clients in even the most budget-conscious projects, and has over 15 years of experience in a multitude of sectors including expertise in commercial and educational spaces. April earned both a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Master of Architecture from Savannah College of Art and Design.

About Kyle

Kyle Novak, Assoc. AIA, earned a Master of Architecture from Tulane University and a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics with a minor in Education from Clemson University. Kyle has developed a significant portfolio of designs for aviation clients including a Centralized Receiving and Distribution Center (CRDC) for Nashville International Airport, concourse renovations at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, and a ticketing hall study for Charleston International Airport.

About Kameron

Senior Associate Kameron King joined LS3P in 2013 after graduating from the University of North Carolina-Charlotte with a Master of Architecture; she also holds a degree in Business Administration from Emory University with a focus on Communications and Management. Kameron’s portfolio includes a number of large, complex projects for healthcare, commercial, federal, and residential projects in the Charleston region.