Freely sharing the wisdom and insight gained over the course of many years of experience is an immeasurable gift. And taking the time to be a mentor, to share your knowledge with others is, likewise, incredibly rewarding. Creating an environment with both structured and informal opportunities to mentor and be mentored has been a priority of LPA|A’s leadership since the firm’s founding 50 years ago.
“When I started working here thirty years ago, I never imagined that I would one day become one of the senior staff that others looked to for advice. I hope that I’m able to be the kind of mentor to younger staff that Dick Lamoureux was to me and so many others, said Principal Eric Moore.
Informally, all staff members seek out the expertise of their colleagues, and the varied skills and interests across the team combined with the longevity of staff with the firm (more than half of LPA|A have been with the firm 20 years or longer) means that direct experience with nearly any subject can be found somewhere in the office.
Mike Oldakowski, who has been with the firm for more than 20 years, has become the firm’s expert in envelope design. Mike is assigned to nearly every project the firm takes on, sharing his extensive knowledge with the design team. Mike’s expertise is a resource that everyone at the firm values. Not only knowledgeable and constantly learning himself, he is a thoughtful and patient teacher when called upon to help.
LPA|A President Katie Crockett said, “I view everything as a teaching moment which can provide an opportunity to help our less seasoned designers grow. From sitting down together to brainstorm design ideas to having junior designers attend public presentations with me or review my reports, I think it’s so important to set an example. We all learn from each other, whether it’s technical skills or best practices, and that collaboration – the give and take, back and forth – allows us to inspire each other and drive superior design.”
While Katie, in her role, often serves as a mentor to staff, she started at the firm as an intern herself and was mentored and supported by both Dick Lamoureux and Mike Pagano over the course of her early career at the firm.
Sometimes an informal role can turn into a more structured mentoring relationship. Architect and Associate Principal Chris Lee was the go-to person for tech questions before taking the role of leading a weekly Revit users group. The structure of a regular meeting to enhance everyone’s skill level and to talk through questions ensures that the fast-changing technological tools of the trade are being used to their maximum potential.
The emphasis LPA|A places on community service also facilitates mentoring in the wider community. Administrator Pam Farley has volunteered for the Central Massachusetts United Way for several years to share her insight with young women in the community through their Dollar Scholar Mentor Program. Pam keeps the books for the firm and is highly organized with a keen eye for detail. Helping young women with financial literacy was a great fit for Pam’s skills and she found it to be a worthwhile and rewarding experience.
Supporting the next generation of architects is of particular interest to LPA|A and is something that has been a priority since the beginning. Several years ago, Architect and Associate Principal Peter Caruso volunteered to be a Licensing Advisor through NCARB (The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards). This mentoring program connects licensed architects with people who are working toward their registration to answer questions and provide guidance through the process. Peter started at the firm right out of college more than twenty years ago and was happy to be able to support less experienced colleagues who had joined the firm in more recent years.
With 50 years in business and unusual longevity of staff with the firm, many have made the transition from mentee to mentor, and of course, a commitment to lifelong learning means that one may find themselves in either role at any given time.