The Candidate Question Series Volume 5

Recently Candidates for the 2014 / 2015 AIA First Vice President / President Elect were asked to answer a series of questions from the AIA California Council and the AIA Center for Emerging Professionals. Although the questions came specifically from those two AIA components, I believe they’re somewhat universal and may be of interest to our membership as a whole.

Over the next week or two leading up to the National Convention, I’ll publish my answers here in a series called “The Candidate Question Series.” This is the fifth post in that series.

What do you think about my answers? Leave a comment below. I’d like to know how you’d answer them too.

Member Resources

Question: While the economic climate has been challenging for all in the design and construction industry, it has been especially difficult for “seasoned” professionals who are often times unable to compete in today’s technology-based delivery environment. How is the AIA positioned to support these experienced members?

Answer: Do you remember when your mother taught you that it is not polite to ask someone their age? Well, that still holds true because age doesn’t always tell us about someone’s career challenges.  Dr. Donald Super argued that people pass through five career stages during their life span:

  • Growth
  • Exploration
  • Establishment
  • Maintenance
  • Reinvention

Many seasoned professionals who were expecting to be safely in their “maintenance stage” are finding themselves needing to reinvent or explore again. AIA can play an effective role in supporting architects at all career stages when they respect each stage and support a culture where “it’s never too late to reinvent yourself.”

AIA can take action to create programs that appeal to “seasoned” professionals; programs that enhance their skills, demonstrate their value, expand their versatility in the marketplace, improve expertise in a specific area, and expose them to new networks of people.

I know of local components (including in California) who are addressing the technology needs of “seasoned” professionals (or re-emerging professionals) directly. Seasoned professionals may never be the BIM tech; however, they can learn the value of BIM, understand how to leverage its capabilities, discover how to open and generally navigate files, and most importantly, bring even greater value to the BIM tech as our “seasoned” professionals really do know how a building goes together.

Organizational Structure

Question: While all can agree that a revitalized, relevant, and robust AIA to lead and support the profession is critical, there is still uncertainty whether the AIA has the will to make the significant and substantive changes necessary. In view of the findings of the Repositioning Study, what recommendations would you make about the AIA’s current service and delivery model to the membership?

Answer: This cannot be a top-down proposition and all members need to possess the will to shift the mindset of services.

When a member pays for three levels of service, they deserve distinct services from all three levels. Please don’t misunderstand my statement. I believe AIA members receive services from all levels; and we recognize some of those services are duplicated at multiple levels.

As I have stated before, we no longer have the luxury of components acting independently. Despite our autonomous governance structure, we need to work together and clearly define the responsibilities for each level.  At a minimum,

  1. Local chapters should urge members to tap into the international network of architects and resources to propel business growth and expand personal and professional development.
  2. State chapters should keep members ahead of state-wide issues, especially related to the practice of architecture and licensure.
  3. National should encourage and support members to actively engage their local chapter to gain access to networking, community involvement, and continuing education opportunities.

Additionally, I believe the current Member Resources Task Force must be BOLD in its wide spread considerations of member service delivery and financial models. It’s not your father’s AIA. Models that maintain a status quo are not the answer.

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