Experiencing Women’s Entrepreneurship Week 2019 as a Woman in Architecture

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This week is Women’s Entrepreneurship Week (WEW), is a global movement which aims to inspire, connect and educate. Now on its sixth year, participants of WEW around the world have been steadily on the rise. Over 200 universities located in 30 countries have joined to simultaneously celebrate the occasion this year. It brings together female entrepreneurs, founders, disruptors and mentors to share their experiences and encourage personal growth. As a woman in architecture with a business to run, my attendance at a WEW inspired event had particular applications.

Development opportunity

The Entrepreneur’s Association of The Muldoon Center at John Carroll University held a talk in support of WEW on October 22, 2019. It featured Sarah Nash the Chairman, President, CEO and majority owner of Nova Guard, a Cleveland, Ohio based business that manufactures adhesives, foam, silicone and thermal products. She gave a brief but highly informative talk on Reinventing Your Business. Sarah has extensive experience in the financial services industry and is a former Vice Chairman of J.P. Morgan’s Global Investment Bank. 

Transformative values

Sarah shared how she applied her philosophy through her management style during her ongoing 16-month tenure as CEO of Nova Guard. She provided clear interactive links among employees, customers, products and company culture. Here are the key takeaways that I found valuable:

  1. Employees come before customers because happy employees result in a good work culture
  2. Best Quality Products and Best Customer Services
  3. Everyone matters.
  4. Values of teamwork, dignity, respect, trust, listening and learning to create a community focused team-based culture among its employees
  5. Invest in research and development
  6. Always question how your company will be relevant in 3 – 5 years and determine when to “sunset things” that are no longer relevant.
  7. Lead with great humility and be humble.

A woman in architecture

Applying Sarah’s collaborative approach and “win everyday” attitude fits well with my own management style as CEO of MG Shlachter. It is similar to how I also keep an open mind to new things and pay attention to everyone’s input. We consistently treat each other with dignity, respect and trust. This provides us with the reassurance that we will be listened to, learn from each other and work cohesively together.

This lecture also enlightened me on how to handle or prepare for shifts in retail and brick and mortar construction trends. These tend to shift quickly and could potentially spell the difference whether my clientele’s business will succeed or not. I must remain updated on any fluctuations in my industry regardless of my current convictions and maintain an objective viewpoint. Such movements can serve as indicators on how I may plan ahead, adjust or gauge my position in the market.

Investing in the future

MG Shlachter’s main focus, however,  is in architecture drafting, 3D renderings and visualization  and production graphics services. We do well in this regard, though having a customer mindset ideology made me consider offering a wider range of services. We are now considering how to incorporate digital technologies in the designs the team creates for our clients. Virtual reality, augmented reality, big data and the Internet of Things do not sound as far-fetched as they used to. A growing number of retail and brick and mortar businesses have already incorporated them to remain competitive. 

This will provide additional value to our clients and more importantly, strengthen the team. I believe that I should encourage my people to regularly update themselves on the trends in our industry. Their increased knowledge should ideally make them more valuable to the company, promote a happier workplace and enrich company culture. This would in turn, link back to “Best Quality Products and Best Customer Services” philosophy. Clients would then have more access to relevant, cutting edge services which can positively impact their businesses further.

About the Author

About the Author

Aya Shlachter is the CEO and founder of MG Shlachter. MG Shlachter provides consulting and production services in the built environment to clients worldwide. The company specializes in the hospitality and retail sectors. Aya is a Filipino-American architectural consultant, urban designer, businesswoman and resource speaker.

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