It’s no secret – ASID has had a busy two years. We’ve launched two new events (The Leadership Experience: Presented By ASID and Platform: A Retreat for Design Visionaries); retooled SCALE: The ASID National Student Summit; opened our new headquarters, the first LEED and WELL Platinum office space in the world; released detailed pre- and post-occupancy research on the headquarters office; and so much more.
One of my favorite new initiatives is the Ones to Watch Awards and Scholars Program (OTW); now open for entries. Each year, this program identifies and recognizes rising leaders, particularly underrepresented demographic groups in the interior design industry, who demonstrate exceptional leadership potential and a willingness to push the boundaries of the profession. From the 20 annual award winners, the Society selects up to eight OTW Scholars to participate in an exciting leadership development training program.
I reached out to three OTW Scholars to learn what it has meant to them.
You’ve gone through nearly a year of executive leadership coaching as an OTW Scholar. What impact has the program made on your career?
Confidence and validation. I have always struggled with self-confidence and self-doubt throughout my career. That feeling has prevented me from taking risks and next steps in my career. It’s been my greatest obstacle.
Since starting OTW, my self-doubt has been quieted, and my goal is to completely obliterate it. The mere fact that I was selected as a Scholar has validated my work and abilities. Getting out of my comfort zone and allowing myself to be vulnerable, whether it involves networking or public speaking, and knowing that I CAN DO IT and do it WELL, has expanded my confidence significantly. And, recently I was promoted to DESIGN DIRECTOR of our corporate design studio.
As a side note, the personal connections I have made have been outstanding and surprising, to say the least. Although we have only known each other for 10 months, we have formed a close bond that will last a lifetime. We have laughed together, cried together, and grown together, and for that, I am most thankful.
- Gracie Andraos, ASID
HKS | Dallas
What have you learned that you were immediately able to apply to your work?
The presentation technique session led by Denise Calehuff was extremely helpful in building my self-confidence and in fine-tuning my presentation skills.
The professional connections and expanded network to national industry leaders has been extremely valuable. A few weeks ago, serendipitously, I was on the same flight as Reed Kroloff – what a conversation we had and what a connection!
The group feels we, as an industry, need to tackle diversity more directly. We have only touched the surface and there is much more to discuss. The panel discussion at SCALE was proof positive that the message is powerful, and all designers want and need to engage and embrace this topic. Our hope is that we can continue to have a deeper discussion, and we very much appreciate the platform. We are discussing amongst ourselves what we can do to further the initiative, and we look forward to the support of ASID.
- Gracie Continued
As an educator, you have a unique perspective on the dynamic within the group. How have the interactions between OTW Scholars benefited your career?
The interaction between OTW Scholars has been a wonderful connection. We are all practicing designers with our own niches and passions. This group feels like a collective of people with unique superpowers that have come together to uplift people and our profession. That is our common thread. I have leaned on my fellow scholars for suggestions and support in leadership and as an educator of future designers. I trust their judgment and direction. In any career you need support and people you can trust. They have given that to me and I strive to be that for them.
- Angelita Scott, Ph.D., Allied ASID, IDEC
Georgia Southern University | Statesboro, GA
What has been your favorite part of being an OTW Scholar?
The OTW Scholars program has given me a deeper understanding of not only myself as a rising leader, but of the future of interior design. My favorite aspect of the OTW Scholars program is not one that I would have necessarily anticipated at the beginning – it’s the close relationships we have formed as a group. My personal perspective has been broadened by the diverse backgrounds, experiences, and viewpoints of these incredible individuals. I have gained invaluable professional connections and real friendships that will follow me through my career. Inspired by ASID’s commitment to diversity in design leadership, I am proud that the OTW Scholars are thinking critically about how we can be an organized force for positive change in our industry.
- Bridget Schmitt, ASID
IA Interior Architects | Chicago