Leading the Design Firm

This course is co-taught by Prof. Spiro Pollalis and Brian Kenet.This course introduces GSD students to the business side of the industry from the perspective of the design firm\’s senior management and provides an overview of four broad areas of responsibility: Financial management and creating shareholder value; Business models and strategy; Firm culture, ownership, and leadership; and \”Managing\” change.The course will attempt to highlight both the ways in which a design firm is a business like any other as well as its unique financial and cultural characteristics. The course will feature guest lectures by the CEOs of prominent, large firms that offer professional services in the disciplines of architecture, landscape architecture, planning, engineering, construction/project management, and/or environmental consulting. Students are expected to work with the firms whose leaders will be guest lecturers to develop case studies that illustrate current business trends in professional practice. In this context, student work will consist of interviewing professional and executive staff within the firms to illuminate the relevant business and strategic issues to be described and analyzed in the case study. Students will present their case studies at the end of the semester. Confirmed as guest lecturers this Semester are: Joe Brown, CEO of EDAW; Nunzio DeSantis, Exec. VP of HKS; John Whisler, COO of Leo A. Daly; Phil Harrison, CEO of Perkins + Will; Peter Morrison, CEO and Hugh Mullan, CFO of RMJM; Carole Wedge, President of SBRA; and Carl Roehling, CEO of SmithGroup.