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Business Development and the Democratization of Architecture Studios

with Iben Flaconer

Hanbury's CEO, David Keith, has always invested in young talent, given them a voice and a seat at the table when their ideas rise to the occasion. When Iben Falconer presented as one of this year's Virginia Design Medalists, she reiterated Hanbury's belief that even the most junior designers can take steps in securing new work – and shape their career path.

As the pandemic eliminated face-to-face interactions, Hanbury - as well as businesses of almost any stripe - has looked to adopt a renewed agility to winning work, so Iben's perspective on business development (BD) was welcomed. Her strategy leveled the assumption that only practice leaders did business development. Not only did she lay the responsibility for identifying and securing new projects squarely at each of our feet, but she also neutralized the natural anxiety of being a "business developer" by encouraging all employees to approach BD according to individual personalities, strengths, and relationships.

Her words especially resonated with the young staff in our firm. Playing a role in generating work—whether lead generation, pitching, proposal writing and closing, or relationship maintenance—opens more possibilities in a career path and showed that architects have more control of the direction and pace of their careers than they assumed. It is empowering to think of BD as picking your clients to intentionally frame the trajectory of future work. With this approach, even junior staff can influence the long-term direction of the firm.

In the short time since Iben's presentation, we've already seen renewed excitement in our younger staff as they pursue business and nurture relationships. From more regular contributions on LinkedIn to our young architects' contagious excitement for existing and potential projects, these changes have sparked a deeper association between the client and the prospect of the design. When these team members are included on client calls; Hanbury is buzzing with optimistic energy for positioning our firm for new work. Iben gave an informative presentation that was filled with good ideas to enhance our business development culture and build and maintain our client relationships.

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