Investing in your staff (and yourself) is a sure way to keep your firm evolving, but it’s not always easy to prioritize. We asked four industry pros—Brad Ramsey, Jessica Jaegger, Leigh Jones and Sarah Weichel—how they integrate professional development into their firm.
Keep It Simple
“We are a small office with a large workload, so we don’t invest a lot of time in professional development. I have industry mentors that I periodically catch up with to talk shop, get advice and talk through any roadblocks. Aside from that, we try to stay current with design tools and utilize them to make us and our work more efficient. Technology is always changing—and while it is great to be proficient in the latest and greatest program, you don’t need all of the bells and whistles to be a great designer.” —Brad Ramsey, Brad Ramsey Interiors, Nashville, Tennessee
“For me, professional development is just as important as business development. We are better as a collective, which is why we invest in new courses, whether design related, leadership training or business management. Being able to travel and experience new cultures is also a must to keep creativity alive. We value the opportunity to attend every trade show [we can] and participate in professional networks.” —Jessica Jaegger, Jessica Jaegger Interior Design, Miami
“I value professional development from the perspective of adapting to industry changes. When the world of social media took off, I wanted to learn how to use those tools to elevate my business. Hiring a professional PR firm was a major first step, as it facilitated the transition of my business to an online platform. From there, I learned how social media could drive traffic to my web portfolio. Beyond that, I also attend High Point Market twice a year to maintain an industry presence. Attending such large events is a phenomenal way to learn about new design trends and network with other professionals.” —Leigh Jones, The Very Thing Ltd., Burlington, North Carolina
“For me, professional development comes in the form of weekly therapy. I believe the best managers are those who are in tune with their communication style. Separately, I invest in quarterly executive coaching with [Los Angeles–based business coach] Breck Costin to help keep my business goals on track.” —Sarah Weichel, Swike Design, Los Angeles and New York
Homepage image: In this living room by Sarah Weichel, California-cool comes through muted tones and laid-back seating | Courtesy of Swike Design