At IA’s newest office, we catch up with Managing Director Kelly Funk for a Q & A.
1. What does being part of an organization where 75 percent of the senior leadership are female mean to you?
I am honored to be part of an organization that not only recognizes and supports female leadership but is proud to promote it. From my first day with IA over six years ago, I have felt empowered to take on leadership roles. It is a testament to IA’s inclusive and entrepreneurial culture. Companies that demonstrate diversity across all roles—especially leadership roles—possess a wider spectrum of experience, perspectives, and problem-solving techniques. I am thrilled to belong to a network of female leaders who support each other and from whom I can learn.
2. Based on your organizational experience and design strategy background, what cross-industry influences have you observed and how have they impacted design and ultimately the businesses of our clients.
It has been incredible to witness over the years the influences industries have had on each other; it is a testament to the ever-increasing blending of industries to remain competitive and expand their talent pool to include more diverse set of skills and expertise. While larger forces in our economies and meta-trends have influenced this immensely, we as strategists and designers have been in a unique position to witness it unfold. From hearing firsthand in leadership visioning sessions about new business strategies to come and shifting perceptions around brand, to working with human resources and operations teams that have utilized their broad experience to design new organizational constructs, I have been fortunate to be a part of so many companies’ changing business dynamics, cultures, and environments. Beyond being a part of the change driven from within, I have also acted as a catalyst for shifts and as an influencer, infusing what I learn from one industry or market to elevate and differentiate another. Seeing the “wider field” across several industries has allowed me to create new models of working and design, further cultivating the influences industries are having on each other.
3. How do outside interests influence your approach to projects?
I have always said that what I learned from being an athlete involved in several sports has been a large contributor to how I lead teams and projects—and now an office. As team leader, I learned that clear communication is key; setting team goals orients everyone around the same mission, and making everyone a part of the strategy and process are critical to success. Building team chemistry is paramount. Ensuring that the team “practices” together often to connect and to solve challenges is mutually beneficial to both the team and to the client’s project. I have taken these lessons learned in sports culture and applied them to my interactions with colleagues, partners, consultants, and clients. As we grow the IA Philadelphia office, we will continue to hire team players who possess the traits necessary for building a team-oriented culture, those who are “in it to win it” and those who have the vision to elevate the dialogue surrounding the built environment.
4. How do you see the space making industry evolving?
The future of space making is certainly moving more and more towards a cross-disciplinary approach. We are increasingly co-innovating, co-designing, and co-building with disciplines that have not traditionally been connected to the real estate and design industry. Some may see this as diluting our services; I see it as advancing our interiors practice and the design process at large and evolving how we engage with collaborators and clients. We are doing more than just designing spaces, we are designing experiences and supporting organizational change. It’s more than “space making” and it’s an exciting time to be a designer with advancements in technology and shifts in how, when, where, and what drives people to work. For the Philadelphia office, we aim to build a lab-like environment where various skillsets, disciplines, local institutions, bodies of research, and consultancies come together to create great work. This confluence will be infused into the fiber of our culture and will enhance our design solutions.