Senior Project Manager
Consultancy, North America
From classroom to boardroom, Sandra balances efficiency and design to build spaces that flex as their usage changes. After designing for universities and cultural institutions throughout North America, Sandra started using principles from academia to help clients attract new talent and use their commercial work spaces more efficiently to support people working in the digital age.
- How did you get into what you do?
From a very early age I knew I wanted to be an architect. Growing up with parents that encouraged engineering and the arts, I naturally relied on asking questions, gathering data and imagination to solve problems. Those traits still serve me today.
After completing a Master of Architecture and MBA from the University of Illinois, I was hired by an architecture firm that focused on design and planning for colleges, universities and cultural institutions. Work led me from Chicago to Indianapolis to Baltimore. In 2010, when I moved to New York City, the architecture profession was still recovering from the recession and positions for higher education designers were hard to come by. I decided to take a position at a global interior design firm specialising in workplace.
And, it stuck. Private companies were looking to educational environments as a source for design. Emerging companies and Fortune 500’s are still recognising the need to reinvent workplace design standards because what people do and where they can work has changed.
- Why Mace?
Mace recognises that having a “different perspective” can lead to a “better perspective”. Mace has a reputation of hiring ambitious people with an entrepreneurial spirit – people looking for a better way to innovate the AEC [architecture, engineering and construction] industry.
Since joining in 2017 I’ve been given the freedom to pursue consulting work in commercial interior planning and strategy. The culture is very much about hiring people from a variety of backgrounds and empowering them to be innovative.
- What do you enjoy most about your role?
When I came to Mace I was pivoting from design practice to owner’s representative. What I’ve enjoyed so far is working with a team that is knowledgeable in construction planning and practices, engineering, quantity surveying and cost estimating, and operations to learn about all aspects of projects and occupancy services. I keep learning every day at Mace.
- What motivates you?
A great team. I appreciate the established culture that encourages us to work collaboratively across regions, share ideas and challenge each other. It means when I present a concept that’s a little different to a client, I know it’s been well thought out by different minds. I’m confident that we’ve found a great solution to their challenge.
- What do you hope you’ll be doing in the next 5-10 years?
Helping women and under-represented groups have a greater leadership presence in architecture and construction. Mace has been keenly focused on the gender equality issues that face the AEC [architecture, engineering and construction] industry today. Individually I want to be sharing my experience, finding more opportunities to directly mentor, and creating connections for others.
- What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Adventuring in New York City or abroad. During the weekend, I go to the farmers market, volunteer, go on long (slow) runs over Manhattan’s many bridges, or hunt down the best ‘fika’ around the city. When I travel, I like to spend at least one day wandering the place I’m in with only a loose itinerary… it’s led to the greatest explorations.
- What might you have done if you hadn’t got into this line of work?
I’d probably have done something in the natural sciences - like be a meteorologist. I used to go to programs about severe weather in high school and took atmospheric science classes in college. I love a great lightning storm – it’s unpredictable and beautiful.
“I appreciate the established culture that encourages us to work collaboratively across regions, share ideas and challenge each other. ”