Msharpless Member Spotlight

22 Jan, 2014

Past President Spotlight: Martin Sharpless, AIA

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Sharpless, MartinMartin Sharpless, AIA is an AEC industry leader with deep client and design firm relationships built over a 25+year career in the Mid-Atlantic region. Martin was President of the SMPS DC Chapter in 2000-2001, after having served as Programs Chair and other leadership roles. He joined international building and development company Skanska USA as a Vice President in the Washington, DC office in 2013. He was previously Vice President with Gilbane, providing Principal-Level leadership since 1998.

Martin, how did you get started in AEC industry?

Prior to my construction career I was an Associate-level architect with KlingStubbins in Philadelphia and started their Washington, DC office in 1995. I started my architecture career at Ballinger Architects in Philadelphia, and earned both a Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Architecture at Pennsylvania State University.

Who are the mentors you most admired?

Rose Dela Vega, VP at RTKL and NAVFAC Contracts before that. She and I won the FDA project that got Kling to DC, teamed with RTKL, and she mentored me on my government deals once we were started in DC. She was among the best!

Murphy Tuomey Wilson, A. Morton Thomas – who helped me get started, and became a great friend and advisor over my career.

Both women represent the best in our industry – women have to work harder to build credibility in AEC circles – the best ones stand out on top because of their tenacity, focus and ability to build lasting, positive relationships.

What advice would you bestow upon someone new in the industry?

Don’t ever burn bridges – we team with everyone in this town – and it’s best to be neutral to positive with everyone you meet and work with. It’s okay to have your bestie’s – just don’t allow enemies to develop!

Hardest Lesson Learned to Date:

Even we Business Developers can’t control the world! God knows we try though!

What would you consider your greatest achievement during your term as SMPS DC’s President?

Building a financially stable chapter with the Board and officers at the time. We started from negative and built programs that set us on the financially stable track our Chapter is on today. Lots of hard work by all members of that era, made it happen! We also developed a strong spirit of camaraderie that many of us rely on even today.

What are your SMPS takeaways?

It’s a small world here in Washington, and our industry in general. SMPS DC gives our members the best chance to build their network among all AEC partners. Many of my best friendships in the industry started at SMPS. I’m very proud of our current chapter membership, and am always ready to cheer the team on!

Interview by: Shaylee Carmona SHW Group