An Ambassador and Champion of Design Talent
This is the 11th in a series of posts featuring insights from professionals who work in the architecture, engineering and construction (A/E/C) industry.
As principal and chief talent officer at global design powerhouse Perkins+Will, Meg Brown helps potential employees discover their career destiny.
Her multifaceted role includes conveying the firm’s design ethos, cultivating a consistent culture, and equipping employees with resources that help them thrive.
An advocate and active user of social media, Meg embraces the power of storytelling to engage with prospective employees at all levels.
I’ve long admired Meg’s commitment to advancing the design profession, and I’m grateful for her willingness to share her perspectives in this Q&A profile.
MP: As Chief Talent Officer for a global design firm, what do you think is your most important role?
MB: Design thinking. Perkins+Will is a firm that believes fundamentally in human-centered design: that is, creating innovative solutions that makes people’s lives better. The same holds true for making our employees’ lives better. My role, and the role of my HR colleagues, is to create a high-value experience for our staff, and to design and provide resources and opportunities to ensure everyone feels inspired and empowered.
MP: Has the well-publicized war for A/E/C talent changed the way your firm positions itself with potential employees as a great place to work?
MB: Ultimately, people are attracted to a firm that has a strong design reputation. At Perkins+Will, our design excellence speaks for itself, so design talent is naturally drawn to our firm. I do think social media has changed the way we share our work and our stories, expanding our global reach in attracting more talent.
MP: What are some effective ways that candidates can differentiate themselves?
MB: Everyone has unique attributes and skills, and they should emphasize how those attributes are skills support the position they are pursuing. I find storytelling helpful: sharing real-life experiences that demonstrate critical thinking, innovation and problem solving.
MP: What’s the most common mistake that you’ve observed potential employees make during the hiring process?
MB: I would prefer to focus on the things that potential employees can do RIGHT during an interview. Engagement with an interviewer is key: do your homework and ask good questions. Be your best self—the person you would want to meet and work with! Find creative, memorable ways to take your share your experience. Take your interviewer on an active listening journey with you as you talk about your school or work experience. Approach the interview as a way to demonstrate your skills and show off your spirit.
MP: How has the rise of social media changed the way the firm recruits and engages with potential employees?
MB: Social media has become my new best friend! It’s agile and informative, making it easier to research and connect to active candidates and those who may become candidates in the future. We love sharing our Perkins+Will stories and staying informed about the design world at large. Social media has become a terrific first step connector.
MP: Much has been written about generational differences in the workplace. How accurate are these depictions, and have they influenced the ways your firm engages with potential employees at various experience levels?
MB: We talk about this a lot at our firm. I think it’s important to engage with candidates who, regardless of their age or experience level, live in the present, know what’s happening in the world, and stay curious; who are passionate, compassionate, creative, and confident; and who have an inclusive, forward-thinking mind-set. That said, learning and professional development are a critical part of career longevity and success; a firm needs to be poised to provide its employees the right resources and support.
MP: As Perkins+Will continues to expand through acquisitions of other design firms, do you proactively work to instill the P+W culture within those offices or do you allow each firm to maintain its existing culture?
MB: Shared values are critical. We approach all of our partnerships with an appreciation of the people we work with, and a respect for their existing cultures. I’d describe our approach as blending the best of both, which evolves naturally through the building of relationships with each other, our clients, and our teams.
MP: Why do YOU believe Perkins+Will is a great place to work?
MB: It’s the people! It’s a delight to work every day with such creative, talented, passionate, and fun colleagues. I’m always learning something new, which makes working at Perkins+Will a joy.
Previous A/E/C Stories posts:
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3 Essential Tips for Launching a Successful Communications Career
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Reflections on Three Decades of Architectural Recruiting
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