Title: executive director of the Richmond Technology Council, or RVATech, a business association that promotes the region’s technology economy
Born: May 1979 in Elgin, Ill.
Education: bachelor of Arts, University of Virginia, 2001; master’s degree in architecture, University of Miami, 2005; and master’s degree in business administration, Auburn University, 2013
Career: Hunton & Williams, 2001-04; Baskervill, 2004-08; National Council of Architectural Registration Boards, 2008-14; American Institute of Architecture Students, 2014-18, Richmond Technology Council, 2019-present
Where in the metro area do you live?: Midlothian
Best business decision: “I was once working with a fantastic team member that was the ideal employee in terms of productivity. However, nobody liked working with the person, which was sabotaging all their great accomplishments. I ultimately had a radically candid conversation with them that was painful on both sides. However, years later, that person has remained and is thriving in the position.”
Worst business decision: “I once hired an exceptional employee away from the company I had come from previously. The employee was fantastic and wonderful, but maintaining relationships and trust is also fantastic and wonderful. I was able to repair the damage, but in hindsight, I would’ve taken a more diplomatic approach. Leadership is not always about ‘being right’ but rather ‘getting it right.’ ”
Mistake you learned the most from: “In high school I was captain of the volleyball team. One day, I let my team talk me into skipping a practice on a half-day. The next morning, all my college application recommendation letters were sitting incomplete on my desk having been returned to me by my biggest faculty advocate. As a leader, you have to lead, not the other way around. Make your own decisions.”
What is the biggest challenge/opportunity in the next two to five years: “Maximizing humanness. We first thought modern connectivity was idealized science fiction, now we worry it’s ruining us. I think the next big leap is getting away from judging our connectivity, and into a world where we embrace technology’s ability to allow us to enjoy more about the human experience — we can now get to know more people, maintain relationships more easily and develop deeper insight into one another’s lives. It’s not always invasion of privacy. Sometimes, it’s knowing you’re not alone.”
First job after college: James River rafting guide at Richmond Raft Co.
If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently: “I would allow myself to be way more creative in years 15-30. I spent a good majority of time in school taking the right classes that would get me into the right college that would get me into the right job that would get me the right promotion. In the last 10 years, I’ve realized that it’s creativity, critical thinking, innovation and the ability to imagine that can really propel you — in business and in life. And it’s way more fun.”
Book that inspired you the most, and why: “Paper Tiger,” by Tom Coyne. “He takes one year and invests everything he has — time, money, energy — into attempting to pass Q School and become a professional golfer. I’m not a huge golfer myself, but the concept of going all-in on something for a year of your life is inspiring.”
Favorite/least favorite subject in school: Favorite: math; least favorite: chemistry.