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Trends: Building the Next Generation of Leaders: A Firm Leader Looks to the AIA National Convention for Staff Education Opportunities

About Timothy J. Bakos, AIA: Mr. Bakos is the director of operations at Perkins+Will in Washington, D.C., and is responsible for practice management aspects, including staffing, career development, project delivery, and office profitability.

He has extensive experience with mixed-use, multi-family, and renovation projects. He has also worked on specialized industrial, commercial and institutional projects, including historic schools, office interiors, and secured government facilities.

Tim, how did having the 2012 AIA National Convention in D.C. help your staff find educational opportunities?

As director of operations at Perkins+Will, I’m deeply involved with the professional development of our staff and finding the best opportunities for them to increase their knowledge and their contribution to the firm.

As a firm, we were able to take great advantage of the proximity of the last convention and allowed staff to attend parts of the multi-day event.

For newer architects, we find it really is a great place to help them emerge as leaders and develop their interpersonal skills. That helps them communicate their ideas, share their passions, and contribute to the industry as a whole—not just to the projects that they do for the firm.

When you get that many architects together, all interested in sharing their ideas and passions, it’s logical to send our best and brightest to contribute to that mix, and to be perceived as experts and leaders. I think for all architects, those experiences improve performance back in the office.

How should intern or associate architects approach their supervisors about attending the convention?

There is some discussion that has to occur early on—not just as the convention approaches. The aim is to show that they are committed and passionate about becoming architects. The convention is the largest gathering of architects, and the best place for them to understand how they fit into and contribute to the profession.

Employees can be their own best advocates. With an opportunity such as the convention, make sure management is aware of what opportunities it provides, both for you and your firm. Demonstrating the value that you can bring back to the firm is a persuasive way to convince senior leadership.

Associates learn at the convention, and have a chance to network and experience what’s often a new city. What does the firm gain out of this?

We’re pleased that our staff has the energy and passion to want to attend. They bring that back to the office and it really helps the firm. It’s an intangible benefit, but it’s important.

The convention also covers a lot of topics—often taught by leaders in their fields. There’s a lot of education on offer in a short amount of time.

Architect just beginning their careers have a chance to learn about topics that they otherwise may not encounter. That helps leadership find and nurture talent so that they can allocate staff resources more effectively.

Just as important, the networking opportunities become crucial as they get further into their careers. Even at the most basic level, the new products and ideas they encounter at a convention can help with the firm’s day-to-day work.

What would you say to firm principals who were unsure whether they should sponsor their employees to attend?

We expect everyone to be good at their jobs. It's why they have them and why they work here. The people that we choose to send to the convention are the staff that we think are going above and beyond what's just required on a day to day basis. They're stretching themselves to make those connections, to understand what the new trends are, and to bring that back to help differentiate our practice amongst our peers.

When we send employees to a convention, it's so that they can grow and develop their skills in representing their ideas to people outside their project team and to develop some confidence in how they express those ideas. Bringing that back to the office provides new opportunities for them to differentiate themselves beyond just what they do on a project basis. That can help the firm differentiate itself as a leader in the field.



2013 AIA National
Convention and Design

June 20–22, 2013


Intern Development

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Member Spotlight

Tim Bakos, AIA
Director of Operations

1245 24Th St Nw, Ste 800
Washington, DC 20037

Phone: 202-270-4707

Perkins+Will was founded on
the belief that design has the
power to transform our lives—
in commerce, our culture or
our communities. By gaining a
holistic view of our clients'
vision, needs and context, and
adding creativity and
innovation, our work solves
complex problems and
transforms our clients'
businesses and missions, often
helping to make them leaders
in their fields. We believe that
great design has the power to
do this.



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