AIA Central New Jersey hosts Mentoring and Strategic Leadership Succession Planning Membership Program

April 4, 2018

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AIA Central New Jersey hosts Mentoring and Strategic Leadership Succession Planning Membership Program

by Sean Cuddahy, AIA

On March 26th, AIA Central New Jersey hosted an event called Mentoring and Strategic Leadership Succession Planning. The evening’s program focused on the importance of lifelong mentoring. The event took place at HDR’s office in Lawrenceville, New Jersey.

The evening began with Leah Schultz, an employee at HDR, sharing with the attendees some of the activities that HDR’s Young Professionals Group (YPG) have been getting involved with in order to foster a mentoring culture within the office.

Cristina Martinez introduces the ACE Mentoring Program

This was followed by a presentation given by Cristina Martinez, who looked at how to inspire high school students to pursue careers in architecture, engineering, and construction through the ACE Mentor Program.

The final presentation was given by Stacey Ruhle Kliesch, who focused on the identification and advancement of strategic leaders within an organization and the importance of succession planning.

Sean Cuddahy, 2018 AIA-CNJ President, asked each of the presenters as to what was the most important thing they would like people to take-away from the evening. This is what Cristina and Stacey had to say:

Cristina Martinez: “Mentoring is a vehicle to help introduce and guide youth into our professions, but also leads to personal and professional growth for mentors.  Witnessing how rewarding it is for mentors, in addition to the students benefiting, is the icing on the cake!”


Stacey Ruhle Kliesch explaining the benefits of Succession Planning

Stacey Ruhle Kliesch: “Making time to develop and implement a mentor based, succession plan program now, 10, 15 or even 20 years before you plan to retire, is a strategy that will give the entire organization confidence and peace of mind that the firm has strength and lasting power that extends beyond today’s leadership. It demonstrates a commitment by the firm to support the staff and by the staff to support the firm.  Everyone wins.”


In addition, Leah Schultz and the Young Professional Group also provided the following feedback about the evening’s discussion:

Leah Schultz: “The presentations about mentoring and leadership succession were interesting from the perspective of a young professional. While leadership succession and the organization of a successful mentoring program that Stacy discussed is not something I deal with from day to day, it allowed me to think about the current organization of our office and ways we may be able to improve things in the future.”

Leah Schultz of HDR’s Princeton Office speaks to AIA Central NJ about HDR’s Young Professionals Group


Kristen A. Hartman: “The evening’s presentations on the importance of mentoring and strategic leadership succession planning were informative and inspiring. Each presenter left us with a kind of “call to action”— approaches, strategies, and opportunities—that would not only help an individual advance their own career but ways to lift others up in the process as well.”


Marc SoHayda: “The mentoring topics were presented in a manner that caused thought for both senior members and young professionals that were in attendance. As a young professional the concept of mentoring is always on your mind. It gives you the opportunity to learn from other professionals “mistakes” and progress your career. However what I have never thought about is the amount time and effort that goes into leadership succession planning.  It was good to hear a perspective from the mentor side of things.”

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