Priorities for our Profession
This past week I sat down with AIA Component Leadership from California, Middle Atlantic, New Jersey, North Central States, Ohio Valley, and South Atlantic, for some live Q&A regarding my candidacy. Check out the video below!
Some of the questions asked were
What would be your priority as you tackle those issues that you suggested, and what do we need to do in tackling those as a profession?
How can we distill those into tools that can be used at the chapter level for education and services to our members?
If elected, how will you ensure and/or push the AIA to enact large-scale change as it relates to justice equity diversity inclusion within the profession, and other allied professions?
What is the role of architects in promoting equity and undoing structural racism in our society?
Click here for a full transcript
I would love to hear what your thoughts are on my responses.
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Engaging with AIA Component Leadership Candidate Webinar
William: Got Ricardo up. Ricardo, you got a quick mic check for me?
Ricardo: Yes, I'm here!
William: Awesome, thank you very much. Um, Ricardo Rodríguez De Santiago is a candidate for At-Large Director. Thanks for joining us today and um listening in. We've got a few questions for you. Number one: What would be your priority in tackling all the issues you listed in your speech, and excuse me, um (this is poorly written). I'm sorry. Basically, what are your... what would be your priority as you tackle those issues that you suggested, and what do we need to do in tackling those as a profession.
Ricardo: Well I think the issues that I know are mainly four, right, starting with innovation and I think the important part of starting with innovation really has to do with an acknowledgment of ourselves as a profession, that there is no sustainable future unless we tackle this as a business decision. Right. We all know, I talk to a lot of architects, I have a lot of architecture friends, no one's talking about how much revenue increase that they're getting these past couple years, how great and rosy things are going. It's always like you hear the same complaints, over and over. Yet for the past 60 years, if not more I would argue, that our business practices have remained essentially the same. So, we're very much adept at tackling context, from a built perspective, but not so much when we talk about context from the digital perspective. So when I talk about innovation and digital empowered innovation it really has to do with how do we empower our practices with the tools needed to really change fundamentally how we do that. So I think understanding that there is a strategic imperative to run and have business innovation for our firms, for how we bring in new members how, we tier-in new type of an audience, new clients... This notion that we need to educate our clients in what we do I think it's fundamentally wrong. The main issue that we need to keep in mind is the market is telling us something and has been telling us for quite some time. We need to educate ourselves in what our client and customer needs are and then adjust our business practices to fulfill those.
William: Super, thank you for that. How can we distill those into tools that can be used at the chapter level for education and services to our members?
Ricardo: Right. So again, I think that we as a profession need to if we're really looking forward and thinking about the future of the generations that are now and coming after us, understanding that automation is going to displace up to even a third of the construction industry's workforce. We need to do something now, to be able to maneuver that change? How do we do that? We provide education so that people are able to obtain the education and digital confidence that they need, that they're able to understand what data and financial analytics are, and that we're able to establish programs that outreach to people in ways that connect with them. We've had to all figure out new ways of engaging with customers, and each other, during the pandemic. I hope that at the end of the pandemic, we can if this actually does happen, that we're able to... instead of reverting back to where we were before, but were able to take those (learnings) and in a very lean kind-of-way, and use those as a stepping stone to develop new ways of connecting with people. I think a lot of that if we're thinking about, I would say, the younger the K-12 standpoint, we need to immediately meet them out where they are, and NOT where we would want them to be as clones of ourselves. Right. As a profession, what are these fundamental skills that we all go to architecture school for and that we're super passionate about? Those are the skills that will set us apart in a tech-enabled world because those are the skills that are not prevailing within the tech industry in general
William: If elected, how will you ensure and/or push the AIA to enact large-scale change as it relates to justice equity diversity inclusion within the profession, and other allied professions.
Ricardo: Oh, I think this starts from an acknowledgment that, and it's a very hard discussion because it's an inward-facing discussion, in that there are policies, rules, and even traditions that have systematically pushed out people from our profession. It prohibits people that are not in the traditional path from being able to work within their passions and their strengths for us. And that involves us looking at each of these and every one of these pieces of communication, policy, administrative guidelines, and normatives that we have, that are potentially pushing those folks out and then bringing them in. Bringing them in not in a way that we are tied to, maybe performance metrics, but on how important it is to have folks of a diverse background in. While data is super important, I think that a genuine opportunity to give them, as they grow, is even more important than that, right? There has to be an atmosphere and space to allow for that level of advocacy, it happens with developing a path, to I would say, leadership opportunities that not only throws people - Hey, here's... you have an option or access here - but, that you actually empower them, you provide skills, you provide the resources that are needed, and the contacts that are needed, to kind of come in for that. So, I think it's it's mostly in inward-facing that we need to do a hard look at ourselves and then start reaching out and get them in the mix.
Thank you, Bill.
William: This is yeah, this is uh we got a little over a minute left, this is a similar question, but it's directed towards society. So what is the role of architects in promoting equity and undoing structural racism in our society?
Ricardo: I mean, it's a fundamental, right, question, and though it is related I think this now looking a little bit more outward, so I appreciate the opportunity to discuss it from both ends. I think a big part of that has to do with us being able to elevate the people in our membership that are doing the work, that are doing work at the very grassroots levels, right, of becoming involved with folks, involved with causes - be that in climate change or social justice - because we know for a fact that those are very much entwined. So how is it that we bring those voices to light and we share them? You know, we're 95,000 members deep worldwide. We should be doing a whole lot more of using our Institute as a platform for getting not only those voices out, but us ourselves standing behind them in those causes, in a very effective way, right. And a way of doing that is engaging in public leadership and even in political action so we could be doing a whole lot more with that. Thank you!
William: Thank you, Ricardo. Appreciate you being here.
Ricardo: I appreciate it.
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