Ann Deng, a leader in the landscape architecture industry, champions the fostering of diversity and the offering of unwavering support for women in the field of Building Information Modeling (BIM). She shared her leadership mentality on an episode of the Women in BIM podcast titled “Working Smarter, Not Harder.”
As a senior associate for McGregor Coxall, Deng understands the value of BIM and how the workflows can be leveraged for better results. But, as many experience with their foray into BIM, change can be uncomfortable. She has several strategies she implements in her role at McGregor Coxall to not only help colleagues get familiar with BIM in Vectorworks, but also to nurture an excellent, diverse team.
As a mother, work-life balance is crucial for Deng. With more than half of the firm’s leaders being working parents, Deng stressed the importance of implementing policies and dynamics that cater to their needs. In this way organizations can create a supportive and inclusive environment that allows working parents to thrive both personally and professionally.
While she acknowledges the prevalent cultural expectation to toil relentlessly and constantly strive for more, Deng firmly believes that positive changes can be brought forth through enhanced communication and effective leadership. Notably, she emphasizes the utmost importance of serving as a stellar role model for fellow women in the industry.
Embracing Technology & Overcoming Resistance to Change
Deng is a big believer in the power of technology. Her joy for digital design is matched by her enthusiasm for mentoring others in their BIM journey.
One of the main hurdles faced in this digital transformation journey is the resistance to change among team members. Deng indicated that many individuals hesitate to embrace new technologies due to fear and a lingering attachment to traditional university education.
However, she emphasized that overcoming this resistance is crucial for the advancement of the industry. Setting examples, allowing people to make and learn from their mistakes, and showcasing the benefits of digital tools and processes helps organizations slowly break down these barriers and foster a culture of innovation.
Lead with Empathy
If you were to describe Deng’s leadership approach with a single word, “empathetic” would certainly be a contender. The need for empathy comes from several points in Deng’s journey to becoming a leader at McGregor Coxall.
First, as a mother, she knows how difficult it can be to balance work and home life, which gives her a great understanding of the needs of working parents.
Another aspect of her journey that led to her empathetic mindset was having to learn digital landscape architecture from the ground up. She’s aware of the process of getting acclimated and, therefore, is better prepared to nurture a team along the same or a similar journey.
By acknowledging the variety of personal backgrounds that make up an office, Deng can better cater her decision-making to foster an effective, balanced team.
Listen to the Full Conversation on the Women in BIM Podcast
Deng discussed her leadership style along with other aspects of being a woman in the BIM industry on the Women in BIM (WIB) podcast. You can check out the entire conversation on Spotify, Apple Music, or Soundcloud by visiting episode 23, “Working Smarter, Not Harder.”