With all the events, news items and ballots, you may have gotten the not-so-subtle message that AWA+D’s new fiscal year is about to begin. September not only marks a new membership renewal cycle (make sure to sign up or renew!) and some heavy duty planning for the upcoming year, but a changing of the guard of several positions on AWA+D’s Board. While we are sad to say goodbye to the leadership of Anna Harris as President, we are proud to welcome Kishani De Silva as President for the 2015 – 2016 term. As a project manager in the architecture and design industries, Kishani offers AWA+D a unique perspective on the world of design. Read on to learn more about her experience, interests and thoughts, and help welcome her as the next President of AWA+D!
1. Biographical InformationIn the last 25 years or so, I have lived between Los Angles and London and spent the majority of that time in Los Angeles. I have worked in the architecture and design industries for the past 20 years and started my career at John Fisher and Associates, a modest firm located in the Valley. I have had the privilege of working for Firms such as Foster + Partners, London the Jerde Partnership, Fluidity Design Consultants and Wet Design.Not long ago, I completed an Executive Leadership program from Cornell. I spent a Summer at the AA in London—which now seems like a lifetime ago, and I am also a proud alum of Woodbury.
2. Why did you want to become a part of the design profession?I always wanted to be an engineer actually, as I loved mathematics and was always meddling with objects that had moving parts. I found myself wanting to study architecture in a rather long winded way (which I will not go into here), but suffice to say, once I started the journey—I had to keep going.
3. Who have been your greatest influencers? Why?I have been fortunate to have had some wonderful mentors—both men and women. Lou Naidorf and Nick Roberts stand out. Lou was always able to hone in on the best in you and Nick had a certain nobleness and humility in the way he operated which is rare these days.
4. What do you feel are some of your most important achievements?I think working at Fosters is certainly up there. Starting my own Practice has taught me much about about being resilient.
5. What are some of the insights of being a woman in your occupation?Work hard to be the best at what you choose to be. Your strengths will overcome any adversarial circumstance—and there will be many of them; consider those just 'moments' in a continuum that will be made up if many, many other satisfying and fulfilling moments.
6. What excites you creatively, spiritually or emotionally?To see the fruit of your labors.
7. What do you think/hope your occupation will look like in 10 years?It's difficult to say as like everything around us, the profession is changing and evolving. I think the world will still need architects but the knowledge base one will have to draw from will be quite differed.
8. What role do/have you played in AWA+D and what is the importance of the organization in your life?I have been a member I believe since 2012 and served as the CFO during the 2013/14 term and VP subsequently. I'm now poised to take over the Presidency of the organization. It has been immensely gratifying to be a part of an extraordinary group of women and the organization has played a huge part in my professional life these past few years.
9. What advice would you give the graduating class of 2020?You will be working in a profession where talking about gender equity and pay equity is a thing if the past. You will be working in a level playing field and finding your niche and being expert at it will be fundamental to your success.
10. Any final thoughts or words of wisdom?Be resilient; you must have staying power and you must have a sense of humor!