Architecture is a complex, involved profession, but Lyndsay Bennett has been captivated by it since childhood. With her father working as a contractor, at an early age Bennett began drawing pictures of houses similar to those she saw around her neighborhood.
“I was always looking at construction and home design magazines,” she says. “My dad would even show his clients my drawings when I was six years old.”
Today, with more than 13 years of experience in corporate real estate, construction, interior design and project management, Bennett is plotting her next career move.
She is searching for a company that is dynamic, entrepreneurial, and seeking the diverse skills she brings to the table. Growing pains aren’t an issue, either.
“I want to be with a younger company, or at least a company that’s going through a change,” Bennett says. “I’d like to really be a part of that impactful time, and then grow and develop my own career alongside the business.”
Climbing the ladder
After years spent sketching homes when she was young, Bennett decided to take her passion to the next level by majoring in architecture at Syracuse University. She says Syracuse, a top architecture school, was her first choice because of its great reputation among employers.
According to Bennett, her alma mater tends to produce practical thinkers who have strong design skills, as well as technical skills that can be applied to real-life projects.
After graduating with a BA in architecture, Bennett worked for CBT Architects, an international design firm based in Boston, fulfilling her childhood dream of working on high-end residential projects, including the Highland Meadows development in Weston, Massachusetts, and custom condominiums in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Boston.
Early in her career, she was on a computer when she would have preferred attending meetings and being hands on at job sites.
“What you don’t realize when you’re a student is it takes a really long time to climb the ladder in the architecture and interior design world,” Bennett said. “I didn’t feel like I had that kind of time.”
Instead, she turned to skills other than design that she knew were her strong suits, such as a talent for organization, reading drawings and paying attention to detail. From there, she was accepted into the Suffolk Construction Career Start leadership training program.
“I wanted to be at the table; I wanted to see real, tangible work being completed on-site on a daily basis,” Bennett said.
After stepping away from the architecture world, Bennett took her experience at Suffolk and spent eight years working for former client, Akamai Technologies, a content delivery network and cloud service provider based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She helped to create enjoyable, efficient and productive places to work while they nearly tripled their number of employees.
Bennett started as the company’s facilities project manager in 2010 and served as director of global projects in her most recent role. Throughout her tenure at Akamai, Bennett traveled the globe, ensuring new locations and new markets were on-brand and delivering a consistent experience and quality, while including regional influences in design and workplace standards.
Her dedication to her job was especially evident when her manager asked her to relocate to London due to the high number of projects she managed in Europe. Bennett accepted, living and working across the pond for two years.
Her work at Akamai involved collaborating with internal leaders and employees to guide them through change, help them to understand all the options at play, and make the best decisions for their company as a whole.
In London she helped expand the company’s presence in the city. She drove strategy to split the UK operation by opening an additional location in central London to attract and maintain talent, increase customer interaction, and allow flexibility and room for a multitude of activities.
That project also pushed her to get creative while designing.
“In any project, I am managing a budget and schedule, while incorporating the client priorities. In the case of London, our space needed to include highly technical customer-facing spaces, as well as the capacity for our growing staff and increase in customer meetings,” she said.
She ultimately added mobile walls and furniture to the space, which made it versatile, easy to use and suitable for a variety of events ranging from board meetings, trainings, and small breakout sessions, to parties. In turn, a large space that would otherwise have been occupied quarterly for a town hall meeting, was transformed into two or three rooms to allow for optimal day-to-day efficiency and use.
On a company level, in addition to having a “tangible impact” on the physical environment that enhanced the employee experience, Bennett also had responsibilities there that often flew under the radar.
“I was dealing with design issues, live construction sites, and unforeseen conditions” she said. “I was putting out fires every day without anybody knowing about it.”
Helping others do more
Even with her breadth of professional experience, however, Bennett prides herself more on her humility, desire to work hard, and approachable nature.
In her next role she hopes to make the tangible results of her work a positive experience for everyone involved.
“One of the great things about my career is I’ve been able to experience a variety of disciplines and cultures, and that really plays off a lot of trends in the overall industry,” Bennett said. “Whether it’s development of a neighborhood and how to improve or even create community, or providing a work cafe inside a retail location, it’s become apparent that different types of organizations are trying to make their space do more.”
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