Sal Musarra with Kimley-Horn

Sal Musarra with Kimley-Horn

Title: vice president of Kimley-Horn, a national engineering and planning firm with more than 90 U.S. offices, including four in Virginia

Born: Norfolk

Education: Virginia Tech, bachelor’s in landscape architecture, 1983

Career: landscape architect and office leader for various regional landscape architecture, engineering and golf course design firms, 1985-1999; The Rose Group, Raleigh, N.C., 1999-2003; Kimley-Horn, 2003-present

What part of the metro area do you live?: Richmond’s Near West End neighborhood

Best business decision: “Joining Kimley-Horn 16 years ago. Prior to joining the firm, I considered pursing other careers that seemed to work under more sustainable business models. The unique firm structure of Kimley-Horn allowed me to take advantage of a broad and somewhat unique skill set to develop my own practice, pursue work I was passionate about, manage project financials, mentor younger professionals and develop my personal brand.”

Best professional development decision: “Joining the Urban Land Institute 20 years ago. My current role as chair of ULI Virginia is a natural progression within an organization that focuses on education and thought leadership around responsible land use and all of the many issues related to that mission. Planners and design professionals cannot be effective without understanding the repercussions of the many decisions made in development of plans for buildings, public spaces or master plans. The ripple effect of dropping our plans in communities may touch upon issues of social justice, equity, public health, environmental sustainability and resiliency, beauty and human happiness.”

Mistake you learned the most from: “Failure to deal with difficult client issues immediately and directly. Time is the enemy of conflict resolution, and problems or perceived problems are typically exasperated by not dealing with them in a timely manner. I’ve learned that clients will most often appreciate and respect very direct and early communication about issues as a sign of good client service.”

What is the biggest challenge/opportunity in the next two to five years: “I think planners and design professionals will need to balance past experience with a sense of openness and creativity to keep up with, and respond to, the pace of change and preferences in community and urban planning, design and generally in the way we live. We need to view issues of land use, community development and design through the lens of a younger demographic who view and move through the world in a vastly different way.”

First job after college: landscape architect for a small planning firm in Newport News

If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently: “Not go to my high school prom during the disco craze wearing white bell bottoms and a black, crushed velvet jacket. Those pictures keep showing up.”

Movie that inspired you the most, and why?: “It’s a Wonderful Life.” “Best movie about business, family and the power of community.”

Favorite and least favorite subject in school: Favorite: philosophy; least favorite: statics and strength of materials.

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