Leadership Profile – Linda Taylor, AIA
An excerpt from Professional Services Management Journal (PSMJ), October 2019 issue
Among pioneering women in architecture, Linda Taylor is often overlooked. She founded Taylor & Associates Architects in 1979, when the few prominent women in the field were either husband-wife teams or second-tier leaders. Today, she remains a director of the rebranded Taylor Design, an architecture and interior design firm based in Irvine, CA, with offices in San Francisco, San Diego, and Sacramento.
In an interview earlier this year with marketing director Monica Seely, Taylor recalled being too busy facing the challenges of starting and running a firm to be concerned with her legacy as a trailblazer.
“It did not occur to me at the time that I was doing anything unusual, or trying to fight above my weight class. Like many women of my generation, I was brought up to believe that I could do anything I set my mind to. In the beginning, when my firm was small and doing smaller projects, there was little resistance to a woman architect in the competitive marketplace—that didn’t happen until the stakes and the projects were much bigger. Unlike some of my male counterparts, I never turned down a project because it was too small or insignificant for my perceived design skills. And I always gave 110 percent to make sure the client was happy, even if it cost me. I think women are more likely to take that approach, and rely on goodwill to be their strongest marketing ploy. The result was that I earned the loyalty of a few clients with very high-profile projects in their pipelines, who then surprised our big-name competitors (and me) by giving me a chance to prove myself on a much larger scale.”
Current Taylor Design president Randy Regier was one of those young people when he joined the firm in 1994. Shortly after she hired him, Taylor let Regier loose on one of the firm’s signature projects. “I call it sneaky leadership development; doing it through a project. That’s one of the beauties of this industry. You can work side-by-side with someone and see how they handle themselves in a lot of different situations. You can see them in action and advise them on how they may have handled something or someone differently.” In 2003, Taylor asked Regier to replace her as president. “Her’s were very big shoes to fill. She was such a good leader—calm and approachable. She has this wisdom that just spills out of her.”
Taylor sees a bright future for women leaders, and not just in architecture. “Women across the board are discovering what it means to have real control of their own lives and the confidence to follow their dreams. “As leaders, they bring an empathetic and nurturing aspect that’s born in every woman, and this may be our only possible pathway to the future,” she says. “I know that sounds like a huge thing to be tackling while we’re talking about ‘how does it feel to be a woman at the head of an architecture firm?’ because it’s hard to put those in the same bracket. But I do in a way.”
For the full article, please visit PSMJ’s website: https://www.psmj.com/