Rkennedy  Spotlight

17 Nov, 2013

New Member Spotlight: Ryan Kennedy, LEED AP

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Read time: 2 minutes, 54 seconds

319c381Ryan Kennedy is the Marketing Manager for the Alexandria office of LandDesign, a national Landscape Architecture firm providing Urban Design, Planning, Landscape Architecture, and Branding services. Ryan joined SMPS in August, but has been in the Washington-area A/E/C industry for eight years. Having spent most of his life between the West Coast and Europe, he likes DC’s blend of old and new, and the interesting mix of people here.

How did you first learn of SMPS and what motivated you to join?

I’ve attended a number of SMPS events over the years. In particular, I recall one on putting together proposals being a huge help. There really is an art and science to winning proposals. Ironically, the reliance on proposal work during the recession meant that I had a stressful and unpredictable schedule, which made it hard to participate as much as I would have liked. At my current firm, LandDesign, we’re now in a position to be a little more selective and holistic in our approach.

How did you get started in the A/E/C industry?

I’ve long been interested in the built environment, but I made a very gradual transition from consumer-oriented marketing for residential real estate to being a marketer of A/E services. I took a position at my current employer, LandDesign, in 2005, but primarily worked in our Brand Development studio. In 2008, I moved on to WDG Architecture where I had a more traditional A/E marketing role. Now back at LandDesign, we don’t see marketing as a wholly separate activity, but more like an extension of the placemaking and branding services we provide to clients. Marketing is the final step in telling the story of our projects which are often driven by ideas as well as pure design. It’s a nice balance; I get to dabble in project work so I have firsthand knowledge of the services we offer, but am removed enough to provide some perspective.

What is the best tip you’ve been given for marketing in this industry?

Be a pest when you have to. Sometimes—well actually a lot of the time—A/E/C professionals do not have the time or energy to give you what you need. You have to pick up the phone or knock on doors when email is not doing the job.

Can you recommend a strategy and/or device that helps increase your productivity?

I do a lot of writing, but I’m also very visual. Fortunately, in this industry it really helps to have both. Visually and spatially organizing my thoughts really helps me to make sense of a lot of information very quickly – I try to throw everything into an InDesign or PowerPoint document as soon as I have a basic outline. Being able to break down a task and organize each detail is a virtue, but only to a certain point. You are not always in control of your time.

Hardest Lesson Learned:

I guess this is a follow up to the best tip: when you are not getting the input you need, be it on a collateral piece or proposal, don’t wait around, use your intuition instead. You ultimately have to take ownership of your work. Do something, even if it’s outside your comfort zone: make smart assumptions, find placeholder images, learn to draft contracts, practice faking signatures. That last one was a joke. Oh and have a sense of humor about everything, don’t lose your cool.

What would you consider your greatest achievement to date?

I worked closely with WDG Architecture’s Principals to build out their Government, Higher Education, and Master Planning sectors during the darkest days of the recession. It was very rewarding to win work in new areas, especially at a time when each new project meant that jobs would be saved. Towards the end of my tenure, I had the opportunity to design a number of winning award submissions for those projects. It’s a great feeling to see the results of your hard work.

Thank you for your time. Any closing thoughts?

I’ve worked with Architects, Planners, Landscape Architects and others in the A/E/C industry. Each discipline has a surprisingly different approach and worldview. I highly recommend getting to understand the A/E/C ecosystem as a whole and the diversity within it by not limiting yourself to one kind of firm.

Interview by: Shaylee Carmona SHW Group