This is Christine.
One week ago she was my boss. Architect and CEO of Dark Architects. Today she is not. I have some things to say about the way she led my company.
My job is largely about making others better. My passion is enabling architects and engineers with digital design tools and skills, so that they can build better buildings faster, and with greater sense of mastery, autonomy and purpose. That basically means finding and developing better ways of interacting with computers, and teaching these to others. I’m in the knowledge sharing industry. When you have a job that does not necessarily generate immediate revenue, but is part of a long term strategy for creating lasting value, there’s one thing you cannot live without: leadership that shares and supports your vision.
I’ve met many people across the world who share this passion for technology and teaching, and have similar responsibilities at their companies. I’ve spoken with building information modeling (BIM) managers who had to fight owners and board rooms to build a strategy for digital innovation. I have listened as design technologists have elaborated about internal struggles to establish employee training and budgets for conferences. I have lost track of how many times I have recommended investing in hardware – really a no-brainer – only to be ignored when the outlay appeared.
Last year my company purchased high end gaming desktops for all employees who used BIM or advanced graphical software on a daily basis. That’s probably more than 90 % of the entire crew. I asked Christine how many people we should upgrade for this time. She responded with a smile, “all”. The same year we sent 6 architects and a renegade engineer (me) to Dublin to attend the Revit Technology Conference. I asked Christine vaguely if four or five would be too many, confident I was pushing my luck. She: “I think seven would be appropriate.” That’s almost thirteen percent of the entire company. When my friend Arne and me asked if we could open source and publish our company Revit library, she said enthusiastically “why the hell not?” I set up countless training sessions for my colleagues, collaborators and competitors; sometimes for up to five or six individuals, and not rarely for several hours. I can’t remember that we ever even talked about financial problems with that.
Many leaders I’ve met have talked with passion about their employees being the “core of the company”. Few put money behind their claims. My boss did.
Interestingly, she never really wanted to be the leader of Dark Architects, but was convinced by others when our previous CEO resigned. I’m left with the impression that she cared far more about her employee’s opportunities to thrive at what they do, than her own career as a leader, or board room approval. She strikes me as the leader who would say yes downwards and no upwards. That’s leader material.
Last, one attribute that I’ve found in my former boss, and that is very hard to explain, is a natural ability to make you want to be at your best. Another colleague, Lars Ribbum, said to me once; “some people just make you want to be awesome.” Christine possess this natural ability, without you being scared. At least not very.
I believe that if you are making your colleagues better, you’re doing a good job as a leader. I now know much about what that actually means.
Good luck on your new projects, Christine! I really hope we get to work together again in the future.
Disclaimer: These are my personal reflections, and not necessarily those of my colleagues or company, although I highly doubt they will object.