Higher Education Studio Leader

SmithGroup SmithGroup Employer:
San Francisco, CA, USLocation:
Wed, Aug 22 '18Posted on:

SmithGroup is an international integrated design firm that is committed to designing a better future.  We believe extraordinary environments are created when the design process is based on the principles of integrated design, innovation, sustainability, research, collaboration, and design excellence. Our expertise in providing thoughtful and innovative solutions keeps SmithGroup at the forefront of architectural, engineering and planning firms around the world. According to the 2017 Building Design + Construction magazine “Giants” ranking, SmithGroup is the 7th largest architecture/engineering firm in the U.S.

SmithGroup seeks a Higher Education Studio Leader for our San Francisco, California office.  The Studio is an integral part of our Higher Education National Practice, which focuses market sector specific expertise for the benefit of local, national and international projects of all sizes.  We are seeking a talented individual who is committed to winning work in an organization that values design excellence, teamwork and innovative spirit. The ideal candidate will also demonstrate a high degree of creative and entrepreneurial independence.  


The primary purpose of this position is to win new work for the Higher Education Studio.  The Studio is an integrated team of architectural, interiors and engineering professionals that compete and operate in the highest levels of our profession.  

In collaboration with the Office Director and Higher Education National Practice Director, the Studio Leader establishes the general direction and strategy for Studio activities such as business development, target clients, client relationships, and advocacy for design excellence within the office through a holistic and collaborative approach to design and the practice.  The Studio Leader consistently exhibits and demonstrates a commitment to SmithGroup core values – Collaboration, Creativity, Community, Integrity and the Environment.  As a whole, these items create a culture for the studio that shapes it as a high-achieving, very market-competitive, and sustainable enterprise.


The Studio Leader’s engagement is inclusive of all project typologies that the Higher Education Studio currently executes plus the determination and evaluation of new work that it aspires to.  Core project types within the Higher Education Practice currently include

    1. Health Sciences Education (Nursing, Allied Health, Dental, Medical) Facilities

    2. STEM Education (Science and Engineering) Facilities

    3. Professional Schools (Business, Law)

    4. General Classroom Facilities

    5. Student Life Facilities (Residential, Dining, Recreation)

    6. Planning for Higher Education including Campus Master Planning  

    While it is not a requirement to have expertise in all of the above typologies, the successful candidate has a proven track record of winning work in several of the typologies.    


    Specifically, the Studio Leader is responsible for Higher Education Business Development, Higher Education Expertise and Higher Education Studio Operations within the SmithGroup San Francisco office.  


    The successful candidate for the Studio Leader position demonstrates, via a proven track record, the ability to consistently win work, develop and maintain client relationships and assist teams in profitably delivering design excellence and client satisfaction.  Responsibilities include

    • The marketing of our services by working closely with the Office Director, Business Development, Marketing and Design and Engineering Principals of the firm.

    • Identification of target clients and development of a business development plan with the Office Director and Business Development partner within the San Francisco Office, in collaboration with the Higher Education Practice Director.

    • Development and management of the Studio Marketing, and Sales budgets.

    • Consistent application and participation in all Studio go/no-go evaluations.

    • Marketing Leadership via active participation in projects through all phases, from initial client contacts through marketing pursuits, sales efforts, contract negotiations. 

    • Attendance and active participation in firm-wide internal marketing meetings.

    • As client ambassador and team leader, the Studio Leader will often remain engaged in the project, participating in the project kick-off, feasibility studies, strategic planning, master planning, programming, conceptual studies, schematic, design, design development, construction documentation, bidding and award, construction administration, move-in, follow-up and on-going client relationship maintenance.


    The Studio Leader is responsible for the development of higher education specific expertise within the San Francisco office. The Studio Leader will:

    • Develop and execute higher education initiatives

    • Represent SG higher education expertise in the Northern California region through attendance and/or presentations at local, regional and national conferences

    • Share higher education expertise from across the Higher Education practice with project teams

    • Lead regular Studio Meetings (monthly or bi-monthly) for Studio

    • Encourage “rocks to gravel” approach for higher education thought leadership initiatives

    • Attend and participate in National Practice

      • Monthly videoconference practice meetings

      • Bi-annual national practice meetings

      • Annual Joint Practice meeting

      • Client Advisory Board Roundtables (2 - 3 per year depending on topic and location)


    The Studio Leader also oversees the operational requirements of the Studio and will:

    • Review financial forecasting and budgeting prepared by Project Managers to help create a viable Studio budget in concert with the Practice and Office budgets.

    • Work with the Office Director and the Director of Operations to ensure that revenue and project performance targets are achieved and studio issues are addressed.

    • Provide input on hiring prospective employees.

    • Share input regarding staffing. 

    • Participate in Studio employee development and reviews, annual promotion.

    • Continuously promote design quality at all levels.


    Supervision and Direction Received: from the Office Director and the Corporate Higher Education Practice Director.

    Supervision and Direction Exercised: Supervises, directs and mentors the staff in the studio


    The ideal candidate will meet minimum education and experience requirements, demonstrate proven leadership abilities. 


    The most important attribute for this position is the successful track record of winning work in several of the project typologies described above.

    Other attributes:  

    • Ability to inspire and motivate others

    • Demonstrate a high degree of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management skills.

    • Develop and implement strategic objectives in concert with the corporate practice and office objectives.

    • Demonstrate effectiveness in working in a team setting, communicating with others, customer satisfaction and technical competence.

    • Ability to synthesize information and respond to questions from groups of managers, clients, customers, and the general public

    • Professional and civic involvement aligned with the overall goals of SmithGroup


    • Strong writing skills for communication, project and design narratives

    • Experience working successfully with various collaborative project delivery methods such as Design-Build, Collaborative Design-Build and IPD


    • A minimum of a professional degree in Architecture, Interior Design, Engineering or equivalent combination of related experience and/or training

    • A minimum of 15 years related experience preferred and/or training (or equivalent combination of education and experience) in the AE Industry

    • Professional registration as an architect, interior designer, or engineer

    SmithGroup offers competitive compensation and an excellent benefit package, including 401(k) and continuing educational reimbursement. We offer three weeks of paid time off within the first year of employment, with the option of purchasing additional time off, and pay for seven or eight federal holidays. We also offer an alternative work schedule that provides employees with an additional 15 days off per year (usually Fridays) to help with work/life balance.

    Equal Opportunity Employer/Veterans/Disabled 

    SmithGroup is an Equal Opportunity Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to age, race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, or protected veteran status and will not be discriminated against on the basis of disability or arrest/conviction records.


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