Thursday, May 26, 2022

404: Conversation Partners VS Service Providers with Balmiki Bhattacharya

The ability to prioritize being comfortable with a certain level of ambiguity that's that's very important business of architecture episode 404 hello and welcome to the business of architecture i'm your host ryan willard and this week i'm speaking with nelson worldwide vice president and industrial practice leader valmiki bhattacharya .

Valmiki heads nelson's industrial practice from their office in seattle where he's responsible for integrating design programs maximizing operations and investments and also helping create a strategic sustainable plan for the firm's future valmiki has had a very distinguished career with over two decades of experience in different .

Leadership positions working at several organizations including mg2 calliston rtkl the talbot company and starbucks before joining nelson in this episode bell mickey provides insight on how a large practice like nelson operates and the mechanisms that they have in place in terms of operations and business development he also talks about the many .

Hats he wears as practice leader and the skills essential in making that leap into a leadership position so sit back relax and enjoy balmiki bhattacharya this podcast is produced by business of architecture a leading business consultancy for architects and design professionals this episode is sponsored by smart practice business of .

Architecture's flagship program to help you structure your firm for freedom fulfillment and financial profit if you want access for our free training on how to do this please visit smartpracticemethod.com or if you want to speak directly to one of our advisors about how he might be able to help you .

Please follow the link in the information valmiki welcome to the business of architecture how are you good thank you so much for having me ryan my absolute pleasure now you are based in seattle you're the current vice president of nelson worldwide you've had a very impressive career previously before nelson you are .

Mg2 design you've worked for the taliban company is that right tubman company yeah company um and you were the founder principal of b2 design works also in in seattle yes you've had a um a very distinguished career you've been involved in a number of leadership .

Positions in these different practices how did your position as vice president at nelson how did that emerge all right um so maybe i'll take a step back and just kind of quickly uh watch my career progression so i was born and raised in india got my undergrad degree in architecture in india .

Came to the united states about 25 years ago for my graduate degree and i've been practicing in the us for the last 23 years mostly in seattle spent some time in michigan i would say over the years you know as i've discovered more about the profession of architecture my interests have changed .

And evolved and i've seeked out kind of new opportunities so i joined nelson about six months ago so i'm fairly new to nelson i lead the industrial practice for nelson so nelson is a multi-practice architectural firm .

We are just over 700 people i think we have about 16 different offices and there are about eight different practice areas and industrial happens to be one of the practice areas there are other practice areas such as retail mixed use healthcare so on and so forth .

How old is nelson as a company nelson uh i believe the firm was started in 1977 okay um and it was started mostly as a corporate interiors firm and over the years through several acquisitions it has become more of like a multi-sector architectural design firm right so it's grown then to a 700 person strong .

Business which in architecture terms is a pretty large practice and as you say it's kind of multi multi offices is the seattle office that's the headquarters no the headquarters is in minneapolis uh seattle i would say is one of the uh smaller offices we are i think around 40 people right now in seattle there are .

Some offices which are much larger such as uh atlanta boston philadelphia and octopus got it got it fantastic and and what does your role in town what does it mean to be the vice president is that vice president of the entire group or vice president of the seattle office so it's uh see um .

so the vice president is just a title uh certain people with certain level of responsibility have the vice president title at nelson i would say but my role is to lead the industrial practice for the whole firm across all 16 or 18 offices i see so the industrial practice itself .

As i said is one of the eight or nine practices it's the seattle office is a large hub of the industrial practice there are three hubs of the industrial practice seattle atlanta and new york and we cover the entire country in terms of industrial uh .

Architecture from one of these three offices so that's quite an interesting way of of how the business is structured then that it's actually building typologies which are are the kind of main strands of the business so it's not located necessarily but it's the head of the industrial .

Sector if you like is that uh is that how the business has always been structured or did that kind of hierarchy emerge recently um you know i think as the firm size has grown uh the structure of the business has changed uh at some point in time we .

Were like a regional um based practice you know but i think uh i think having a practice vertical in many ways makes sense it it helps build on expertise .

And so one can kind of think of um the regions as uh the sales and delivery organizations and then you have like the practice as the center of uh center of knowledge and innovation got it so within the seattle office for .

Example how many different practices exist there are about three or four practices that exist in the seattle office but uh um as i mentioned industrial is is is is a dominant practice in the seattle yes and and what are what are the other practices that kind of .

Co-co-exist and is there a lot of are they really separate entities or they're very much integrated with each other no it's fairly integrated with with uh each other you know so some of the other practices are hospitality corporate interiors and some asset strategy work really .

That's that's very very interesting um and how is the organizational structure of nelson work so is there a main ceo at the top and then there's the kind of c level of executives like a number of different vice presidents of each of the different practices and how does it how does it work as a structure when we .

Have uh at the very top we have ceo ceo and cfo okay and then there are all the national practice leads about eight or nine of us and then under the national practice leads we have regional practice leads so i have a regional practice lead in each one of the regions that the industrial .

Practice is in and then kind of uh then under the regional practice leads are the account leaders and senior project managers technical directors so on and so forth got it and how does somebody then become vice president because we often think about .

These roles as you know either someone who's nurtured from the from the grassroots levels like a you know in an academy in a sports team type of thing yeah or was it was it head hunting or how how did the opportunity had how did your career develop into that .

Position yeah so um i came in from the outside i was with another uh firm here in town i was recruited to nelson um but uh but the position became available because the previous national practice lead um she retired um and um so kathy kraft was the previous national .

Practice lead and nelson had acquired her firm a couple of years ago and then so that that kind of seeded the industrial practice in seattle and then when she was getting ready to retire you know like nelson launched national search and it was just it was like pure coincidence that kathy was in seattle i was also in .

Seattle uh but um i mean i believe nelson was looking for the right candidate uh anywhere in the country wherever nelson has an office great and what do you think are some of the skill sets that are required in this kind of position which are different from .

Being a regular architect if you like yeah so as a practice lead the role is primarily focused on uh strategy and vision for the practice it it is less about the day-to-day tactical nature of project execution uh yes i do get involved in projects also uh but the focus is more on setting the tone uh .

Making sure at a regional level there's right kind of uh organization structure the teams have right kind of support so the role has a couple of elements so there's a leadership element there there is a business development element .

There's a p l management element uh and uh cross collaboration between other practices and other offices of nelson um so i i think it's it's you know um it it goes far beyond just pure architectural knowledge it's having a general awareness of what's happening in .

The industry ability to ask right questions uh i may not always have the answer uh so i tend to surround myself with people who know a lot more than i do um and making sure that the team around me has the answer brilliant um so could you explain to us a little .

Bit then about this so the the role is really one of um focusing on the strategy and vision of nelson as a as a group in in large and also i'm assuming digesting what's happening with the ceo's strategy and vision and making sure that there's an alignment with the with the seattle and the industrial practice .

What what sorts of things does the strategy envision include well um you know there are a couple of things we focus on so people making sure we have the right kind of people at right levels of the organization the right skill set making sure we're working with the right .

Kind of clients um uh making sure we are growing the business in a meaningful way yeah not not focused purely on revenue but uh revenue profitability margins um all those things combined um so yeah so it's it's kind of like a multi-multi-prong approach i would say .

Um and also just kind of having a good pulse of what's happening in the industrial sector and where the growth opportunities are who we should be chasing building those relationships some of these things take um a while to kind of build those network .

And convert a lead to a lead to an actual project would you better give us an example or a bit of a synopsis if you like of what that sales cycle entails in terms of your activities so if you if you get a bit of intelligence where does that intelligence comes from to regarding a .

New project and then what would be the strategy of execution to follow up with that relationship what does it look like sure so broadly speaking you know you have two channels you have existing client clients and new clients you're pursuing so with existing clients you know making .

Sure we are closely connected with them not at a project level but also just kind of talking to them regularly constant communication and just understanding what's going on in their business and making sure that our client groups whether existing or future always views us as a top .

Partner more than a service provider because that that ensures we are at the table earlier um and in most cases we help our clients actually formulate the projects um so within the industry of what are you going to say no no no no no .

No no no i'm not talk i'm interested so um in most cases i would say um so so within the industrial practice we do a few types of projects so the first category would be the speculative ground up new build projects .

The second category would be built to suit projects which are for a specific client with a specific use in mind and the third category would be a variety of tenant improvements now um and when you think of industrial many people just immediately go to .

Uh you know warehouses and distribution center that's that's one piece of industrial but there's so much more you know there's um there's manufacturing there's agricultural there are other logistics so warehouses is is a big part of it but there's a lot more to that you know .

Um so i i mean i would say that having those early interactions with our client community making sure that we are at the table early helping them formulate the project making sure we are helping them select the right site .

Ensures we we are adding true value to the project and not just uh being you know like a mere service provider that's i love this the the fact that actually you made a distinction between being a talk partner and a service provider and actually to get in early on the project because we we all know when we see institutions and .

Large corporates if they go to competition or competition or an open bid often the complaint from any architecture practices is like ah this is too late almost you know yes and i think you know um unless and until one makes that distinction between a service provider .

And a top partner um it becomes kind of like a issue of fees and that's that leads to kind of like a race to the bottom and no nobody really wants to be there you know so yes there are some industry and practice standards as to .

What a reasonable fee is for a certain project but if if somebody can articulate as to what else they can bring to the table other than what is expected that's that's where we feel we add true value got it so this relationship as a talk partner .

Um and you said you know some of the things that you might be doing is helping a client find a site and perhaps giving them some operational strategic advice on what they're doing with their physical assets and and and things like that are these packaged as .

Services in and of themselves or do you write them off as kind of business development expenses where you're not you're not charging for the advice or how does it how does it work from a standpoint from a financial sector yeah so it's a little bit of both ryan you know um in some cases we uh we have kind of like an early engagement .

Contract with a client where we are helping them in what's called like pre-development services where we are helping their real estate team find the right site doing various site plans to make sure that the program they want to fit works um and also understanding um .

What success means for the client because uh that is really important to know and sometimes like the definition of success differs from stage to stage to stage of the project you know uh so understanding that and then making sure that we are delivering uh to help our clients succeed now great and how how do you identify these opportunities .

Or potential clients what sort of intelligence do you need to be curating and collecting and what's the kind of process that that nelson would go through to establish that so nelson has a strong internal business development group which is backed by our marketing team so they are constantly .

Looking uh for what uh opportunities are out there within a given sector all across the country and um so they're kind of like uh the the first round of like recon you know and then um our team meets with them on like a regular cadence and we talk to them find out what they are hearing and then .

Um based on who has what kind of relationship with the organization we start kind of like a reach out campaign and then slowly those leads start to convert to real project and in some cases you know it takes months years yeah but once you have built up a healthy .

Body of work uh sometimes those timelines can be reduced significantly what what kind of what's the scale of some of the business development teams in relation to the sort of delivery teams how many people roughly uh so .

So so the business development team is a the the internal bd team at nelson is fairly small and the so there are business development partners who are paired up with a national practice lead so i work with one individual or maybe two .

Who are finding leads all across the country and then once we have a strong lead we establish contact and then i will work with our marketing team to come up with a specific marketing campaign to convert that client you know so that may involve uh first reaching out via phone uh doing .

You know like a broad presentation then meeting in person then understanding um what their upcoming pipeline looks like how it could uh be a possible match to like nelson's skill set and at the end of the day you know like we want to make sure it's a right match because sometimes we may come across a client .

Who are in a growth mode but maybe what what they are doing is not a good match for nelson's current skill set so we will not engage there but maybe when the right project comes along we'll reengage with them again that's brilliant so does this mean that this kind of process actually works well and allows nelson to move into new sectors and how how would .

That work if nelson wanted to move into new sectors was that something that from a business strategy point you like actually you know what we've got a number of specialisms we're sticking to these it's too risky to move into other so so when you say new sector you mean like a new building type yeah um .

That that's a that can be done in multiple ways you know like nelson has done that through acquisition of firms through acquisition of talent and um and then some of that through organic growth now um i mean i would say .

It's it's very hard to get into a new sector unless and until you've shown that you can be successful there you know every client wants to see your past success um so yeah that's that's the slow process i would say and as i said it it happens primarily through those three .

Channels you know acquisition firms acquisition of talent and and in some rare cases organic growth oh got it got it well that's very that again that's very fascinating the the acquisition of another of another company who has that specialist skill set and the specialist talent and it's almost like they're ready to go .

They they've been delivering it has that happened recently with with nelson those kind of acquisitions and uh yes nelson over the years yeah nelson over the uh years have grown through acquisition i don't know the exact number but i think we have acquired over 40 firms over the years amazing .

And so in fact the seattle industrial practice is a result of one of the uh one of such acquisitions uh so craft architects uh was a major industrial architectural firm in seattle and nelson acquired craft architects i believe in 2017 so that kind of founded or formed the basis of industrial .

Practice in seattle and similarly in in the atlanta market nelson had acquired another firm which formed the foundation of the industrial practice and few other practices also in the atlanta market what's the what's the process for an acquisition that the that nelson will .

Will go through again in terms of number one identifying a business that would be suitable for acquisition and then how do you mitigate the risk what sorts of things are you looking for to because it's it's it's you know that the world of buying architecture firms is a very specialist purchase and yeah something that you you need to be .

You need to know what you're doing yeah it's it's a it's a long slow process i myself have not been part of um any of uh any of the acquisition process uh at nelson because we because we haven't acquired any firm in the last four years i would say right um but you know it's it's based on .

Uh a firm's presence in a given market uh their dominance uh in a certain sector if they have have a dominance uh people uh book of clients um and their finances you know because at the end of the day when you when you acquire a firm you're you're basically um .

Getting people and their client list and their debt yeah so if that um if if if all those three matrices work with with the current business model it would be a good candidate for acquisition otherwise maybe not .

Do you need to be careful in terms of um like strategic alignment values mission alignments those kind of like a cultural alignment really yes and that that takes time you know typically uh there's an integration plan in place prior to an acquisition it's a multi-tiered integration plan and it takes years .

I would say the cultural integration is the hardest um and because there are um firms which were you know like a single founder firm or you know like a handful of uh partners who found it and owned that firm for a long time and then they get acquired and .

They are they become part of a larger nelson organization and it's it's a it's a cultural shift and sometimes it's hard for the team to adjust to that yeah and i would say some some some organizations do better others struggle for like a long time yeah i i i .

Can imagine that you know a company like nelson would have a very um rigorous set of disciplines and systems that perhaps a lot of architectural firms might not have and might be quite unaccustomed to yes and i think from me that that's one of the huge positives um a firm that is being recently acquired that that .

Experiences is all the support structure and the operational efficiencies which are there in the background you know because in a small firm most people are used to wearing multiple hats yeah and when you're part of a larger firm it's uh irrespective of where you are your role is more specialized you know .

So yeah so it does free up more bandwidth uh to do real architecture and not uh not send uh invoices let's say brilliant so from the how does the how do all the different .

Teams and the different practice leaders how do they kind of make sure that they're aligned with the ceo's vision how does the company kind of uh ensure that everyone's operating in alignment and you haven't got a rogue practice kind of doing their own thing or does that .

Happen um no i mean i would say we are we are fairly well aligned so it starts with kind of like um a so so our our our business here is you know january to december so we start the .

Process in october november of like the previous year to start creating the vision and the strict and the strategic plan for the following year uh where where the c-suite meets with basically all the practice leads and creates um a overall business plan for the nelson organization as well as practice .

Business plans and then from that point on uh there are frequent meetings you know like quarterly meetings monthly meetings where we continuously fine-tune those um and then usually sometime first week of january like those practice plans are set in place and we know what we're marching towards for the whole year now .

Right and and how often are they reviewed um so there's a formal review every quarter but there is an informal review every month i mean um i have weekly touch bases with my ceo and ceo um so we go we we go over the state of business on .

Like a weekly basis okay fantastic and and you mentioned there as well part of the your your role or one of the sort of things that you're overseeing you know you said leadership um business development and and finances and i would assume that the meetings that you have with your the ceo and the ceo .

There are a number of metrics that that everyone's reporting back what what sorts of things do you guys keep a close eye on to make sure that you know that you're on track for your mission and that you're you're maintaining optimal business health sure so there are you know like bd matrix uh operational .

Matrix and financial tricks now um so um on on like the bd front you know making sure we are we are making progress in terms of chasing down or or like in terms of pursuing the right clients operations you know making sure .

Our staff utilization rate is where it needs to be um we we are we are delivering on our contracts and not uh uh not allowing scope creep you know uh making sure that our team really understands what they have to deliver um .

And like financial you know making sure that uh the um account receivables are kept to a minimum and billing is being done on time and uh you know just like any other practice like managing cash flow is is is a big thing um when you're running a business so .

Um you know architecture practice if we look at the year typically there there's a spike in the summer uh so understanding how the year will look in terms of a cash flow and managing the business to that cash flow is very important um .

Same thing towards the end of the year as we are trying to close our books making sure we are we are fully paid up now so what what kind of transparency does nelson do you have at nelson with say with the project architects and the delivery team and the financials of the .

Business so you know how how do you manage that interface you know between knowing how many hours being worked on the project what it equates to in terms of the fee that's left in there yeah so when it comes to contracts and finances nelson is very transparent you know so our our contracts are mostly .

Created by the project managers and the account leaders so they write the contract it may be reviewed by others but it is up to the project managers and the project team to write the contract so they know they are fully empowered in terms of .

What it will take to kind of deliver the project and we we have different tools we use to do different back checks you know work planning tools other other financial projection tools which which tells us you know .

How we would do with a certain kind of fee and then every week we look back as to how the last week was you know what we projected and how we did and then so on on a weekly basis we have a look .

Back and look ahead so that that really helps us ensure we stay on track because sometimes with uh with smaller projects it's hard to recoup a misstep you know right and it's it's little easier with larger longer duration projects but we have a .

Mix mix of both yeah so one way i kind of uh explain my team is um you know let's just assume that nelson's standard profitability target is ten percent okay so if we make a ten thousand dollar mistake it will take us hundred thousand .

Dollars of new work to make up for that ten thousand dollar mistake so it's hundred thousand dollars worth of work which we hadn't planned for so we have to go out and get another hundred thousand dollars worth of new work to make up for that ten thousand dollar yes right great .

Um this is very very insightful about how the business operates and like the kind of mechanisms that you have in place and how a large practice like this works from a employee standpoint as their as they progress in their careers what sort of training do they need to go .

Through to say to make that leap from being project architect project manager to move up into leadership positions what sorts of business acumen do does nelson help them acquire or do you see that's fundamental for their successes uh you know kind of moving out of say a traditional design role and being more involved in the business .

What's that what's the kind of career path like if you yeah so nelson in general is a very entrepreneurial um entrepreneurial organization you know there really aren't any limits put on anybody as to what you can or cannot do yeah um i would say traditionally there are three paths you know design technical and .

Project management and there are you know several like professional development programs in place which which allows our teammates to uh to like progress within those defined .

Paths but other than that you know i mean outside of that if somebody has a specific interest they can always talk to their managers and leaders and uh and you know shadow somebody uh and work with that person and learn a new skill set let's say if somebody is really interested in like business development .

Yeah and they can easily team up with somebody and kind of um learn the ropes there same thing with project management or if somebody has a keen interest in general operations you know that's a uh that's also a very important skill set in a large organization like ours is .

Just having a good understanding of how how a office or how a region uh works within our organization you know so i i think the general uh skill set we look for in a person is a certain curiosity inquisitiveness willingness to ask question willingness to .

Try and fail um and and kind of learn from those failures great in in terms of business development um how do you help people kind of get involved in in that because that can often be quite a foreign .

Um part of the part of the business sometimes it's a person it can be quite personality driven some people are much more open to getting on the phone and speaking to strangers other people that idea makes them crawl under the bed covers if you like yeah yeah and and .

No well like uh i mean that you're spot on like some people are just built for that you know so um ability to walk up to some somebody and talk uh willing to be uncomfortable you know and some people are just good at networking .

Uh so i think it just kind of um one's desire has to kind of match with uh uh with with their personality you know uh so yeah but most of the time they're paired up with somebody who has been doing this for a while and they kind of learn through that .

Great great uh in in terms of your leadership um what have been some of the big lessons or the things that you've had to develop as a skill set that perhaps you didn't have before or perhaps there were natural strengths that you had and that you've really had to lean into those you didn't realize .

That they were such an asset when you met perhaps early on in your career yeah so you know i would say that after um the first 10 years of my professional career i kind of made a switch i went uh from working on the architectural .

Consulting firm side to owner's side and that gave me a whole new perspective because when i was on the consulting firm side um i uh felt i was in a very reactive mode and i felt like i was always reacting to decisions that were already .

Made by the client yeah and once i made made the transition to the owner's side i realized that um i i had a little bit more ability to influence certain decisions and so i think just seeing how architectural decisions are made on the owner's side was very important and you kind of learned quickly that it's .

Not just about design and construction but there are you know that's that's probably one-tenth of uh of the decisions you know um so that that gave me a whole new perspective i think um working with different kind of owners and how they make decisions so i've .

Worked for uh for retailers i've worked for developers and i have worked as like an owner's rep and all those different roles on the owner's side taught me different things and when i came back to the architectural firm side i was .

Equipped to be a better leader because i had all these other experiences so yeah so i think it's it's just time and learning from all those experiences i think to think to a certain extent we are all accidental experts in some way we don't really plan out to .

You know be an expert in something you know but um over the years the other big big realization i've had is you know i make probably less this less number of decisions on a given day or a given week but they're more more critical decision uh so that has also .

Influenced my leadership style um so yeah so i i think the best way i can describe this is early in one's career you know you're in a soccer field with 100 bars and you're just kicking away and as long as you're getting 90 or 95 into the goal you know you're doing .

Great but later on in your career you're in a soccer field with three balls and those are those are very important balls and you can take a little longer but when you make make that kick it has to go into the goal how how did you know what to not do or the things to let go of .

So that that's again you know understanding what is important at a given point in time uh because um i think architects uh by nature are are very perfect you know i mean like architects by nature tend to be perfectionist they they take a huge pride in their work so .

It's very hard to let go but it's almost like if you care about everything you care about nothing so on a given day you have to pick what is important and focus on that you know uh so yeah so just the ability to prioritize uh being comfortable with a certain .

Level of ambiguity that's that's very important you know uh uh we may not have have the answers to the questions right now you know the answer may slowly appear but just being just the willingness to be comfortable with that uncertainty is is is very .

Important yeah brilliant um you were mentioning there uh about you spent some time in your career on the owner's rep side um and doing these other these other positions what were some of the specific things that you learned particularly on that in that owner's rep side for example .

That that have really made you a better architect a better leader and understand the client you know what the sorts and i suppose another way of asking this question is what sorts of things do we as architects miss out or not listening to yeah .

So um so i'll speak to my experience on on like the developer side because i think that was uh most impactful and valuable i think one thing you learn very quickly on like the developer side is that in many cases the answer is given but what matters is the journey .

You know right and how many friends you make and bridges you build along that journey yeah um the the second thing is um um understanding what what success means at each stage um .

How a project is funded with the source of funding uh defines success in many ways um and understanding what is uh the architect's role in that particular phase to help the client succeed you know um i i think some of the other things is that .

You know at a certain level the owner has the freedom to choose probably one of three or five architects and from a technical execution point of view any one of those choices could be fine but typically the owner goes with one as opposed to the others is because there is a strong chemistry .

Uh in terms of in terms of team personality and um you know because most of these larger projects will last a long time you know you'll be traveling with this person or with this team frequently you'll get to know them you'll get to know their kids you know .

So it's just who do you enjoy working with yeah that that is a big part of like the decision making process i would say um so yeah so i you know it's kind of hard for me to come up with a list of what i learned on the owner's side but it does it has given me a much more broader .

Perspective it has given me the ability to ask questions which i would not have asked before you know uh like an example would be like that how is the project funded yeah and how does that impact uh how an architectural firm engages with you that's that's that's a big deal .

Well again that's that's very interesting because this is these are questions that are many of architects and there's no point in our architectural education if you like where we discuss the different types of funding a developer might be going through whether it's bridging finance mezzanine finance .

Equity funding all those sorts of things these are you know not not spoken about and as soon as you start you know have any kind of confidence to to be engaging with a developer um and speaking that language with them already you've distinguished yourself from 80 90 percent of other architects .

Exactly yeah and you know i think that more and more architectural curriculum would have two elements uh one is communication both spoken and written yeah because we spend a lot of time on emails and in many cases first communication is via email and how do you make a strong impact with like written communication .

Is very important and especially in in our current environment when we are so used to texting and it's a very casual colloquial way of texting whereas in a email you know it has to be framed and worded slightly differently and then the .

Other thing is just you know basics of business understanding how to read a balance sheet and just just some of the basics i think if if architecture curriculums have a little more of those two elements it would be a huge help to students um just talking specifically now about some .

Of your industrial clients and your your you're working with as if i get this right um well i saw on one of the projects uh medical marijuana was being grown so it's kind of very interesting um innovative industries or new emerging industries um highly process driven clients and i suspect that many of your .

Clients are multi-headed other corporate entities um how do you what are some of the sort of specialist ways of working with that type of client has nelson developed or that you know you need to be aware of yeah so um .

You know in some cases we might be doing just the building shell and somebody else comes in and does the inside so within the industrial sector there are some specialized labs and manufacturing and cold storage facilities where we may not do the whole thing we we may uh .

We may do you know like the building and and and the skin and then somebody else will come in and do the inside um so some of that depends on uh what what kind of expertise we have um and what what the project demands and in some cases we'll pair up with like specialty consultants to kind of help deliver those really specialized .

Components of a project right and and and in terms of dealing with a kind of complex client entity in itself um i mean i know from my experience working with infrastructure clients and you're dealing with the uh you know they're multi-headed and there's different teams of different .

People and this can become quite a coordination exercise in itself um what sorts of insights have you developed broadly speaking around just communicating with a with a multi-faceted client like that yeah so some of that depends on who we are contracted under you know because .

Let's say for a project if we contracted with the owner versus a developer who might be you know like a four feet developer who has been hired by the owner or in some cases we might be under a general contractor you know so there are pros and cons to each one of those .

But who we are contracted under does set a tone for what the expectations uh will be you know for for our team um so uh in you know let's say uh in some cases we we might be working for .

A owner on a certain project where we are contracted under a developer right and and the developer brings us to the table for certain expertise but on another project we might be working directly with the owner and their expectations are completely different right um so .

Yeah i i i think it just depends from project to project i'm not sure ryan if i answer your question there yeah no that that's that's that's that's very insightful we're just trying to unders you know what you're saying is the relationship actually of how you're directly connected with the end user or the client .

Yes makes a big difference yeah it really matters yeah fantastic um out of interest obviously you were born and raised in in india um has your career taken you back there have you done much work in recent times in india or is this um not in the last decade um i so after my undergrad uh in india i did work in .

India for a very short time but most of my profession are in fact all of my professional experiences here in the us now um the first architectural firm i worked for in the u.s i did go back to india for uh for work from time to time this was in .

The early 2000s yeah and uh but yeah but not in the last decade brilliant do you remember or can you recall any major differences between how they are how the industries differ in in the different places yeah it's day and night you know i think um .

Uh i'm not sure how how the industry has evolved in the india in the last 10 years because i really haven't done any projects there but um my my past experience was that it was um less structured and organized as as compared to what we have here in the u.s you know .

The the indian building code was just coming about in like the 2000s um so yeah so it was um i think the the um at a design level it was great but on .

The execution level is where it uh where it kind of fell short in india i would say it's complicated yeah does nelson do any projects in in others in the other practices in india and uh you know i don't know if we if we have done any projects in india or not honestly i'm i'm not that involved with the international .

Work at nelson so i i i really can't comment on that great fantastic brilliant so what's what's plan for the rest of 2022 well it's um you know it's it's growing the industrial practice in a meaningful way attracting right kind of talent as you know .

The labor market is very tight right now so finding finding the right kind of people with right skill set and right mindset and attitude is is most important you know i i always tend to hire for attitude and train for skill so um yeah so we are .

We're growing rapidly uh looking for talent at all levels of the organization our clients are growing so making sure that the work we take on with our clients we we can deliver at the right level and um industrial uh is .

It is a very rapidly growing practice right now specifically in certain parts of the u.s you know there are certain corridors in the south southeast and certain corridors on the east coast um so we want to make sure that we are part of that growth and you mentioned there about the the .

Constraints that the industry is facing around attracting and hiring talent how do you go about that nelson how are you how have you been navigating some of those constraints and how do you normally attract talent yeah so so it's kind of like a multi-prong approach you know through our .

Existing nelson teammate network that's that's kind of like the best the best way to recruit i would say you know if you work here and you have a friend who's looking bring that friend over now we we work with uh local schools and and the universities you know so uh staying in touch touch with their professional placement .

Offices we also work with outside recruiters from time to time for certain strategic hires so yeah it's it's it's a multi-prong approach and in a large organization like ours with multiple offices the strategy may differ from office to office or from region to .

Region based on what is happening there do you often find uh is a lot of movement between teams of employees so you know someone who's been involved in the industrial practice for a while is it easy for them to move over into one of the other practices in within nelson and does that happen quite a lot yeah um i mean i would say .

That is one of the huge advantages of being in in like a 700 plus firm like ours with eight or nine different practice areas is uh if you want to try out something new you don't have to leave nelson you can move to another practice you know and the last two years of the pandemic has taught us really well as to how we can .

Work effectively remotely you know so location has become less and less importance you know i mean like has become less and less important yeah as long as the person has has the discipline uh to uh to kind of monitor himself or herself .

You know it's it's yeah it's it it is easy to work from for almost uh from almost anywhere i would say um so yeah so it is um it is quite common in nelson for somebody to move from one practice to the other after one two or three years you know if they want to try something new .

Um so yeah we do that quite often brilliant love it i think that's the perfect place for us to conclude the conversation there about mickey thank you so much for giving that wonderful insight into how nelson is structured your your career path and and and the qualities of of what it .

Takes to be a great leader so thank you very much great thank you so much for having me ryan and that's a wrap and don't forget if you want to access your free training to learn how to structure your firm or practice for freedom fulfillment and profit please visit smart practice .

Method or if you'd like to speak to one of our advisors directly follow the link in the information if you enjoyed today's show please head on over to itunes and leave us a review i read every single one also i'd love to get your feedback on this particular episode or the show in .

General as well as your recommendations you can reach us by emailing podcast at businessofarchitecture.com podcast is brought to you by business of architecture a leading architect business consultancy access our free training on how to structure your architecture firm for more freedom fulfillment and financial .

Success by going to smartpracticemethod.com the views expressed on the show by my guest do not represent those of the host and i make no representation promise guarantee warranty pledge contract bond or commitment except to help you conquer the world .

Carpe diem

RELATED ARTICLES

Most Popular