Q&A With BIM Quality Manager Heidi Larson

Career pathing at Schmidt Associates offers numerous benefits for employees. First, it provides a clear roadmap for professional growth and development. By outlining the various steps and opportunities within the organization, career pathing helps individuals set achievable goals and make informed decisions about their career trajectory.

Secondly, it fosters employee engagement and satisfaction by demonstrating the firm’s commitment to an employee’s long-term success. With a structured path, employees feel valued and motivated to invest in their own growth, leading to increased productivity and retention.

Additionally, career pathing promotes skill diversification and cross-functional collaboration. As individuals progress through different roles, they gain exposure to various departments and acquire a broad skill set, enabling them to contribute effectively to multidisciplinary projects.

Ultimately, career pathing offers a supportive and dynamic work environment, empowering employees to achieve their full potential and align their aspirations with the firm’s objectives.
Career pathing sessions are conducted biannually in the spring and fall between employees and their mentors. For associates, they have advisors who guide them through the process. To gain further insights into the impact of career pathing, we spoke with BIM Quality Manager/Associate Heidi Larson about her experiences working with different mentors and how career pathing has influenced her during her employment at Schmidt Associates.

To say that Heidi has grown within the walls of Schmidt Associates would not be inaccurate. She joined the firm in 2006 as an interior design intern and quickly progressed through different roles. She served as a technical resources assistant, where she contributed to specifications and assisted in the firm’s transition to a new reporting system. She also covered a maternity leave in the Marketing department. Eventually, Heidi was hired as a BIM technician and later evolved into a BIM quality manager. In 2022, she was promoted to a firm associate, where she plays a crucial role in driving the future of the firm through strategic planning. Heidi’s insights into career pathing provide valuable perspectives on its benefits and impact.

How has career pathing influenced you personally and professionally?
Career pathing has exposed me to learning more about myself and the areas where I need further development. I am not someone who makes goals for myself, so career pathing really helps me develop goals and strategies for how to achieve them and ways to be accountable. This benefits everyone when I’m able to do that. Career pathing is not a defined path, and it can allow you to pursue things that you have an interest in, including leadership conferences, in my case.

Since you started, have you seen examples of personal and professional growth?
Absolutely. I think regularly being able to reflect and assess where you are is always important and helpful. We often see mountains of areas where we need to grow without acknowledging how far we’ve come. To better understand what I do well and what energizes me, I asked to do the StrengthsFinder assessment. That really opened my eyes and gave me insight into what I can bring to the table. Understanding my own strengths and weaknesses helps me to better work with others. I have also been able to identify ongoing goals that I always want to enhance, such as communication, and how to more effectively deal with difficult decisions as a leader.

Who in the firm has served as your mentor and how have they helped you flourish?
Duane Dart was my first mentor, Lisa Gomperts was my second, and Greg Hempstead is my current mentor. Each has helped me grow in different ways. Duane and I wrote my primary aim statement together, which is a character impression of who I am and what I want others to remember about me. He also helped me set initial goals and encouraged me to seek out other opportunities to build versatility. Lisa was one of the best examples of a coach, offering insight and allowing me to bring whatever I wanted to the table. Greg is great at offering guidance and support and being that advocate/cheerleader who is often saying, “You can do it,” while helping me step outside my comfort zone.

Besides recognizing where you want to go, what else has career pathing taught you?
Career pathing is a great way to gauge where you are and where others believe you to be. The feedback is critical to understanding growth, and when you have consistent feedback from multiple sources, it’s something you really cannot argue with or ignore. I also appreciate that the questions asked on the assessments are broad enough that they cause you and others to think about different ways to excel, which is extremely beneficial. Something else I have learned through career pathing is that everyone can discover different ways to be a contributor by sharing ideas, areas of concern, and ways to develop.

What do you take away from career pathing and what do you feel others on the outside can learn?
Just like in life, you are only going to get out of it whatever you put into it. Career pathing is an investment in people, and if a firm doesn’t value its people, it’s never going to work. I think this is why it’s so beneficial—because Schmidt Associates leaders care and want to see the staff grow. They have the value structure in place, too. Mentors are versatile with the right mentality, and the shared responsibilities between the mentor and mentee make it a good experience. By that, I mean everyone must be open to feedback, and if you want to do something to grow, ask for it and find a way to accomplish something great. Career pathing is a growth process intended to make everyone better. We all have very important roles to play, and we won’t be successful without all the parts in place, or if we don’t understand the value everyone in the firm brings to an Owner.

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