Talk About It
Seeing Beyond the Set: Business Development for the Architectural Professional
Claudia Williamson of PGAL Houston shares her knowledge for strengthening the business side of architecture.
In the pursuit of expanding knowledge and investigating the various roles of the architect, Women in Architecture network was pleased to host Claudia Williamson, Director of Business Development at PGAL Houston at our quarterly meeting. Claudia’s presentation on July 23 concentrated on the importance of business development in architecture and the benefits such a service provide to a firm.
Often architects are singly focused on the design aspect of their work or the details that go into the construction of their buildings – natural, when one considers what is taught starting in the earliest days of architecture school. Our development as architects continues to be driven by that process as we enter and progress in the workforce and the idea of business development – or as Claudia defines it, “the process of identifying and converting new leads into business” - while understandably important, is a role often discouraged even by leadership in our profession.
Claudia challenges this mindset by highlighting the many ways team members actively participating in the business side of architecture can benefit a firm. In addition to an analysis of the current state of business development in architecture, Claudia presents some various strategies to consider as well as personality traits – such as self-awareness and good people skills – that make for a successful business professional. Such strategies include a holistic approach to winning business by:
1. Analyzing the competition
2. Developing a specific win strategy
3. Putting together the appropriate team
Claudia brings to light the enormous value to be gained when more members of a firm show interest and pursue business development opportunities. Clients looking for architects largely prefer a “Seller-Doer” type of relationship, and want an architect who can both conceptualize a design as well as navigate the business of the project. In evaluating the benefits of encouraging employees to grow their business development skills, the firm can only come out ahead. Promoting business development as a “team sport” can contribute to a firm’s success, and nurturing those team members who wish to grow in business roles can only make an architecture firm stronger.