What attracted you to work in architecture?

In the design world, it’s the architect’s dream to transform a client’s vision into a physical structure and destination for the guest to make meaningful and memorable experiences in. It’s my passion to be part of the team that can make that dream become a reality.

Describe a typical working day for you…

I usually start my day with yoga at 6:30 am. During the day, my daily tasks include communication and coordination with various departments and parties both inside and outside of the organization. Due to the time difference, quite often, we have early evenings occupied with video meetings with clients in Asia. Since we’ve been working from home for the past year, I try my best to go outside and take a walk every day to enjoy the Californian sunshine.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

The highlight of my career has been having the opportunity to visit the beautiful projects that have been designed and built by our team. An incredible amount of effort goes into every phase of a project and each project takes a long time to complete. It requires a lot of investment from all stakeholders and a lot of persistence. It is amazing to see all that hard work come to fruition.

What do you see as some of the challenges facing women in architecture?

According to AIA, almost half of the students in architectural programs in the US are women. This number has increased progressively since the 1970s. However, the number of women that become registered, achieve upper management levels, become partners, and own architectural firms have not increased at the same rate or in the same proportion as their male architectural counterparts. In my own career, there have been numerous occasions where the other party will ask me if there is another senior member from your team who will be joining us for this meeting. In these situations, I learned to be diplomatic. I have found that the best way to demonstrate your capability is through actual work, your presentation, and your industry knowledge and insight. It is not always necessarily about your appearance, gender, or age.

What advice would you give to young women aspiring to a similar career path?

Do what you love and have confidence in what you do. Failures and disappointments are going to happen no matter who you are and what industry you’re working in. Try your best to have your focus, be persistent, and cut out the noise around you.

Lastly, what three skills do you think are essential to be a great leader?

Integrity, someone who knows how to put a team together wisely, and focus, which leads to great decision making.

Interview with: Lining Rao, Executive Director of Business Development, China

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