Employee Spotlight: Karva Sykes, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, EDAC
An interview with Karva Sykes, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, EDAC
Meet Karva Sykes, a licensed Project Manager in our San Francisco office. She holds a degree in Architecture from Carnegie Mellon University. Karva has worked full-time at Taylor Design for seven years while maintaining a busy personal life. We sat down with her to discuss how she maintains a work-life balance and has a bit of fun along the way.
We have a lot of working parents at Taylor Design, how do you balance your role as a Project Manager to ensure a healthy work/life balance?
It’s somewhat of an illusion. After our second child was born, I finally realized how taxing parenthood is emotionally, physically, and mentally. At home, I think about work. At work, I think about my kids. Both sides of the brain are running simultaneously and it’s impossible to shut one side off for extended periods of time.
I’m lucky that I have quite a few wonderful examples of highly successful working parents alongside me here. The key components to my success are flexible hours, available technology, and most importantly, nimble team members. Just this week I was on a conference call prepping for a presentation while driving my sick child to the doctor (Grandma was thankfully in the backseat), then talking to a nurse, discussing treatment with a doctor, and consoling my crying baby all while listening and coordinating with my team. Without a strong support system from both my actual family and my work family, I don’t think “balance” would be possible.
Tell us about why you chose to pursue the EDAC certification and what you hope to achieve with it.
The Evidence-Based Design Accreditation and Certification (EDAC) is like a more formalized version of our Design Strategy process at Taylor Design. It begins with doing research to inform a project while documenting the processes, thoughts, discussions, and decision-making influences to use in future projects. We develop the strategy while making sure we stick to the client’s design guidelines and do a Post Occupancy Evaluation after completion. It’s evidence-based design, so we’re basing our designs on research and information, not just what we think is right.
What advice do you have for aspiring Project Managers at Taylor Design?
You should find inspiration in the Project Managers that you admire. You shouldn’t be intimidated by the ones that you don’t understand or don’t see yourself becoming. Everyone has their own method of doing things – and I didn’t realize this until recently because I’m not hyper-organized – but everyone has their strengths and their improvements they can make. In the beginning, I think everyone feels intimidated by all of the things that Project Managers have to do that seem unrelated to what we went to school for. But once you decide to become one, you’ll eventually start to enjoy doing those things because that’s why you wanted to be a Project Manager in the first place.
What have you gained from working at Taylor Design?
I think I had more opportunities to grow at a fast pace because of the size of our firm and good leadership. They are there to catch you when you fall, and they won’t make you feel like you did something wrong. That is the biggest advantage of working here; the open mindset of the management and leadership gave me room to grow.
What has been your favorite experience while working at Taylor Design?
I think it’s seeing the company grow. I feel like I had a part in shaping the San Francisco office from what it was to where it is now, and I know I have a part in shaping the future as well.
What are three words that you would use to describe Taylor Design?
Humble, family, and forward-thinking.