Career development, workplace environment programs key to retention at HMC Architects

Architecture firm take a multifaceted approach to professional development.

October 04, 2012 |
Four HMC professionals who were recently promoted to Associate talk about their

“We take a multifaceted approach to professional development,” says Pasqual V. Gutierrez, AIA, Director of Architecture. Among HMC’s career development programs:

• IDP Forum, held once a month for those employees who are fulfilling the Intern Development Program. “We use the AIA Emerging Professional Companion in combination with specs of real HMC projects, so that they learn about specifications but also our HMC protocols,” says Gutierrez.

• After-hours study programs for employees preparing for the Architectural Registration Exam are supported by senior architects. 

• Accessibility Workshop: a five-hour program held in odd-numbered years for employees—and clients—who need to meet state licensure renewal requirements for Mandatory Accessibility coursework.

• Access to 1,040 hours of the AIA Virtual Convention for 80 licensed architects at the firm to view and earn AIA/CES learning units.

The Emerging Leaders Forum is a two-year “corporate overlay experience” program for mid- and upper-level management-track staff to hone their corporate governance skills. Emerging leaders engage in reading assignments, community service, and professional practice mentoring sessions to help them refine their practical skills while providing insight into executive management.

At the top level, Principals, Associate Principals, and Senior Project Managers are provided a reimbursable allowance for conferences and books, plus each studio managing principal receives a discretionary fund to administer education and training for technical and administrative staff.

In what may be a unique offering, HMC recorded a thousand hours of its own lunch-and-learn “Back2Basics” learning workshops—covering such topics as BIM and cost controls—and contracted with the AIA to make them available online to HMC staff for continuing education credits.

Two employee-initiated forums meet after hours to explore issues in design, take field trips, make presentations, and enter competitions, all on their own time.

Every September, HMC’s ArchLab takes a group of 20 or so employees into the woods for a weekend retreat to dig into sustainability. “We don’t talk about LEED,” says Gutierrez. “We talk about high-performance architecture and the strategies you need to deliver it.”

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