Confronting the challenges in the world by utilizing design excellence can help people create a better world. When Valeria Segovia felt an enormous sense of responsibility to set a precedent, she felt a need to show other younger women that anything is possible, fueling her thoughts to think that whatever she achieves is for them.
One of Valeria’s core values as an architect and person is the importance of happiness and joy, and it all comes together when her partners, teams, clients have a good time in the process and at the end of a project.
As a Design Director and Principal at Gensler, Valeria leverages her 17 years of experience to lead project teams to deliver design excellence for clients by adopting a forward-thinking and holistic approach.
Embracing Different Cultures and Celebrating Diversity
Valeria was born in a highly urban context within a polarized socioeconomic landscape of incredibly colorful Mexico; filled with rich culture, strong heritage, and a strong sense of community. The city shaped the way she navigated her career. However, she left Mexico to study in Italy and London, embracing different cultures and celebrating diversity.
Challenges started appearing as Valeria attained leadership positions. Numerous times, she was the only one with an accent in the room or the lone female voice with professional developers, designers, and engineers.
In her experience, the more senior the environment, the less diverse it became. As a Mexican woman, she had to double up her confidence to reassure others that she could do the task.
Valeria had a solid support base at Gensler. She felt like her voice was heard, her opinion counted, and her point of view was critical, making her feel accountable and responsible to ensure that others feel the same way.
Incredible Inspiring Ethos
Gensler’s ethos is incredibly inspiring, and it prioritizes people, the Gensler family, its clients, and communities. Gensler delivers designs to create a better world and has publicly expressed its commitment to Climate action. There is no way back; it has created a roadmap to transform Gensler ’s portfolio to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030 and is imagining how it can build cities without solely relying on offsetting for carbon neutrality.
Valeria believes, “We cannot be building the new problems of tomorrow; we must constantly evaluate what we are doing and the impact it has on the environment.”
Focusing on Design Excellence
Since day one, Valeria has focused her career on design excellence; she has three essential words: context, process, and people. She asserts, “Design is all around us; everywhere you look, there is design; what makes it count is its context and how context interacts with design. Context can be many things; geographical, historical, political, economic, and more.” Valeria believes that an essential aspect of good design is its relevance which is dictated by its relationship with its context.
Valeria thinks that a good design is a product of a rigorous process that is clinical and measured on the one hand but visceral and intuitive on the other hand. The process should always be reflected in some way in the outcome. She says, “It takes time to build buildings, and even more in London, so it is important to make sure that there is joy in the process and the outcome.”
Helping Designers Bridge Workflows
Valeria says that technology is significant for the design and construction industry at all levels and not only throughout the design and construction but for the life of the building.
Gensler has developed platforms to help designers bridge workflows and disciplines better. Technology is an integral part of the project process. It needs to stay on the cutting edge to allow for self-learning and adaptation not only for efficiency but to create design innovation. There are now incredible computational tools that enable Gensler to test environmental conditions and other aspects as part of the design process and not as an afterthought.
Valeria says, “There is much discussion about the Meta Verse; it is so impressive what can be designed in the virtual world and to see that there is a different way to create not only experiences but other aspects of a person’s lifestyle.”
Bringing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to Everything
Valeria says, “We have seen the entire world change, adapt, and flex in such a drastic way in the last couple of years. We are starting to realize that this is an opportunity like no other to disrupt the way we live, work, design, and interact with people.”
Gensler is fully committed to bringing diversity, equity, and inclusion to everything it does and making sure all voices are at the table, and affecting meaningful change.
Addressing Critical Issues of the World
Valeria sees herself in a world where there is no ego, where everyone’s voice counts, and everyone’s needs are addressed. She says, “As designers, we can resolve some issues by creating a design process that is inclusive and collaborative, where all projects are purpose-driven and where we prioritize the most critical issues of the world.”
Valeria likes to be surrounded by leaders who lead with compassion and co-workers who care for each other and the world. She sees herself in an industry where research and data are shared between practices and disciplines with a common goal and no hidden agendas.
Prioritizing Human Needs and Utilizing Technology
Valeria asks entrepreneurs to work as an integrated design team with architects, service designers, and brand designers to shape experiences collaboratively. She asks them to seek diversity of the team in crafting the experience – not only diversity of expertise but the diversity of lived experiences – different backgrounds, ages, life roles, histories.
Valeria continues her advice, “What’s most important is to start with the needs/intent of the space NOT the medium by which those needs are addressed. Technology solutions don’t have to be obviously “digital” in this day and ages. We should consider how data can be leveraged to drive value.”
Valeria asks entrepreneurs to seek answers to intelligent questions. It can also become a stimulus for discussion. It can provide personalized experiences and empower service people. She thinks it is best to consider human needs first and what technologies might best support them.
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