Accelerate Live! talk: The ROI of innovation culture, Russ Sykes, SmithGroupJJR

Russ Sykes discusses SmithGroupJJR’s ongoing journey to create a firm culture that ignites innovation and propels change across all levels of the organization.

 

Russ Sykes has seen it all. 

He’s hiked 19,000 feet above sea level, to the peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. He launched his firm’s operations in China. And he rose to become a Managing Partner and Chairman of the Board of the nation’s oldest and largest AE firms. 

In this 15-minute talk at BD+C’s Accelerate Live! conference (May 11, 2017, Chicago), Sykes takes us through SmithGroupJJR’s ongoing journey to create a firm culture that ignites innovation and propels change across all levels of the organization. He demonstrates how four mantras paved the way for new operational models, idea generation, and process improvements. They include creating a culture of engagement, nurturing "intrapreneurs," and building loyalty with unconventional rewards.

ABOUT THE SPEAKER

Russ Sykes, a licensed professional engineer in Michigan and a LEED Accredited Professional, is a Managing Partner and part of a three-person leadership team for SmithGroupJJR. Working from the firm's Detroit, Michigan location, he leads the company's 10 offices, with a focus on improving project delivery processes and operations. Previously, he managed the Science & Technology studio in Detroit and also served as director of China operations.

Russ graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Architectural Engineering from Pennsylvania State University in 1985, and went on to join SmithGroupJJR as an electrical engineer. Through the years he was promoted to management roles at the 280-employee Detroit office, including director of operations and office director. In 2013, he was integral in the establishment of a new office in Shanghai. In 2016, Mr. Sykes was honored as Pennsylvania State University's Outstanding Engineering Alumni, and in 2010 he was recognized by the school's Tau Beta Pi National Engineering Honor Society as a Centennial Fellow in the Department of Architectural Engineering.

In 2016 he also completed six consecutive years on the Industrial & Professional Advisory Council for the University's College of Engineering. Additionally, he is active in various professional affiliations, including the National Society of Professional Engineers, the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Construction Owner's Association of America, and is an associate member of the Michigan Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

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