A picture of four Gannett Fleming architects in San Francisco with the city skyline in the background.

Fostering Professional Growth and Development at A’23 the AIA Conference on Architecture

Fostering Professional Growth and Development at A’23 the AIA Conference on Architecture

Investing in Employee Development Through New Experiences

July 25, 2023
Amy Collins, FSMPS, CPSM, with Huzefa Irfani, AIA, Kayla Barrick, Austin Benham, and Brian Bueno

Camaraderie. Collaboration. Development.

Transformational leaders inspire and ensure the continuous engagement, motivation, and development of employees. At Gannett Fleming, I’m always impressed by how our growing architectural practice transforms buildings and places through integrated design. But how do they encourage the growth and development of emerging professionals and foster a vibrant community of future leaders?

Attendance at professional conferences and events is one way this team equips early-career professionals with knowledge, skills, and networks that can shape their careers and contribute to their long-term success. I sat down with Gannett Fleming’s architectural leader and emerging professionals to discuss their growth experience on the national stage of A’23, the 2023 American Institute of Architects (AIA) Conference on Architecture in San Francisco.

A picture of four Gannett Fleming architects in San Francisco with the city skyline in the background.

Members of Gannett Fleming’s Architectural Practice at A’23.

Diversity in Engagement

AMY: Attending a conference for professional development is a strategic investment in employee growth and development. Why is it important to provide emerging professionals with these growth opportunities?

HUZEFA: Conferences often showcase the latest advancements, innovations, and industry trends. Empowering emerging talent to be active participants demonstrates our commitment to nurturing talent and fostering a company culture of continuous learning and professional growth. Our in-house AIA Engagement Committee designed an essay contest to engage our talented young professionals in the conference experience. The conference scholarship recipients were Kayla Barrick, Austin Benham, and Brian Bueno.

An image of the three early career professionals selected to attend A’23 the AIA Conference on Architecture.

Gannett Fleming’s AIA Engagement Committee selected Kayla Barrick, Austin Benham, and Brian Bueno to represent the firm at A’23.

Conference Insights & Actionable Goals

AMY: How will you use the knowledge gained at the conference to create actionable goals for professional growth?

HUZEFA: Conferences provide a source of motivation and inspiration for attendees at any career level. Witnessing the achievements and success stories of industry leaders ignites passion, drive, and ambition. We can learn so much from the journeys of others.

BRIAN: There were many stimulating seminars, lectures, and keynote speakers with bold ideas and vision. In addition to encouraging me to learn new skills, I’m inspired to jump on the track for professional licensure.

AUSTIN: We found many topics related to conservation, accessibility, equity, and sustainability. Kayla, Brian, and I are sharing key takeaways with the architectural leadership team at Gannett Fleming to help develop our practitioners.

Maximizing Your First Professional Development Conference

AMY: Talk to me about your advice to others on preparing and planning for your first professional development conference.

KAYLA: Plan, but don’t overschedule. Make sure you leave time to do things like visit the expo floor, network, catch up on messages, and enjoy the locale.

BRIAN: Take advantage of all the conference offers, including sessions that are beyond the traditional classroom style!

HUZEFA: Conferences are a great platform for team building, too. Don’t miss out on spending quality time with your peers, whether a fun dinner at a hot spot or taking in some local sights before traveling home.

A picture of a man looking up to the sky, participating in an augmented reality tour.

Brian Bueno enjoys the hands-on experience of an augmented reality tour in San Francisco.

An image of a woman standing in front of the Golden Gate Bridge on a foggy day.

Kayla Barrick explores the iconic scenery of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Investing in Employee Development

AMY: What guidance would you share from this experience?

HUZEFA: Together, we create the success of the industry’s next generation of professionals. Enhancing the professional growth of emerging professionals through attendance at conferences offers a chance for young talent to learn, progress skill sets, and make valuable connections, all while cultivating a culture of continuous learning and development.

Amy Collins
Amy Collins, FSMPS, CPSM
Senior Marketing Communications Manager
750 563 Linda Smith
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