March 16, 2019
Growing up the youngest of nine siblings raised in Southwest Philadelphia, I learned what it means to be a team player and the meaning of hard work at an early age. Being the baby in the family gave me a really strong work ethic; I had to work for everything.
As a child, I was very strong willed, and I stayed that way throughout my youth, schooling and career. I graduated with a B.S. Engineering from UCLA and returned home to the east coast when I landed a job at Remington & Vernick Engineers, one of the oldest established engineering firms in the country, founded in 1901. I was driven by my mentor and firm owner, Edward Vernick, to meet the standard that he sets, and to set a higher standard for myself. That influence pushed me to seek my professional engineering license, later my architectural license, LEED certification and master’s degree.
After two decades of hard work and dedication, I was named the first female Executive Vice President, owner and shareholder. I currently serve as the head of our Educational and Municipal Division, with key direct reports and overseeing dozens employees and delivering hundreds of assignments every year. Our division provides design, planning and construction-related services to school districts and communities throughout New Jersey. I am a professional engineer, a professional planner, a registered architect and LEED-AP.
Some of my most challenging work has been the most rewarding. During a school construction project that required a level of project management that was new to the firm, I challenged myself to make quick, informed decisions while finding the most efficient solutions to keep the project on track. It was then I realized a license in architecture would further our firm’s ability to serve the educational market in a more cost-effective and efficient way. It is exciting to see students and staff walk into their newly renovated school facilities knowing we had a positive impact in creating safe, enriching and positive learning spaces for the next design professional to grow.
Another big challenge shared by so many that I have faced as a female professional executive is finding a balance as both a mom and a career-driven woman. I have always wanted to be a mom. I have four children and many years ago I made a clear-cut decision that I would rather be a great mom with a mediocre career than the other way around. However, what I have learned about myself is that I cannot accept mediocre. My high school motto was “dare to be excellent” and I reached for excellence in both the personal and professional arenas. I believe I have parented, and continue to parent, four awesome young adults while also building a successful career.
I find it is our professional responsibility to give back through volunteer programs and to mentor other young female design professionals seeking to have dynamic careers and fulfilling personal lives. It is important to demonstrate that this industry is not all just design with plans, math, measurements, equations and science. It is about managing projects, interacting with people and learning in the field; you’re always seeking the best solution to a problem. We must consider who will use what we build – it is people and understanding the human component that is the most critical design constraint for a successful project. It’s hard and rigorous work, but if that’s what you love, then it’s worth it!
By Stacey Ruhle Kliesch, AIA, AIA NJ Advocacy Consultant | Posted in Women in Architecture | Tagged: #AnninaHoganAIA, #Architecture, #diversity, #engineering, #equity, #Inclusion, #WIA, #womeninarchitecture | Comments (0)
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