By Anne-Marie Funk, CPSM
Marketing Strategy Manager, ADG, P.C.
Because it’s Women’s History Month and I’m curious, I wanted to know what some of the leaders at ADG think about the profession and how it may have changed since they started their careers. So I asked them! Firm leaders, Betsy Guthrie-Brunsteter and Isabel Feria, shared some thoughts on their careers in architecture. This is the first of three leadership profiles focused on ADG’s leaders—who just happen to be pretty great women and role models, too.
Betsy Guthrie-Brunsteter and Isabel Feria are both project managers at ADG, P.C. Both are architects and have been leaders at ADG, P.C. for over 15 years. Betsy has had a 40-year career in healthcare design and grew up in Oklahoma City. Isabel was born in Mexico City. She moved to Oklahoma City and ADG hired her as an intern in 1999.
Who is the one person who has influenced you the most?
Betsy: “My father challenged me to become and do something more than the other women and girls around us were doing. That meant supporting my dream to be an architect. I wanted to be an architect since fifth grade when I would design houses for my sister.”
Isabel: “My mom. She had wanted to become an architect, but was discouraged. She had design magazines and books all over the house, though. And, I liked looking through them. I knew I wanted to be an architect when I was 12.”
How has the profession changed since the start of your career?
Betsy: “Back in the 1980s, not many architects were women… the ratio of women to men who were licensed architects was 2:100 (two percent). The architecture industry is only different, now, because there are so many more women in it.”
Isabel: “When I was in college at Universidad Iberoamericana (one of the most prestigious universities in Mexico) 50% of the students were women. Women are all over our profession now, not like when my mom was in college when there were only two women out of 500 men!“
What industry associations do you belong to?
Betsy: “I have been a member of our AIA (American Institute of Architects) for over 30 years and served as president of AIA Central Oklahoma Chapter in the 90s. I am a founding member of our local CREW chapter (a women’s organization for the commercial real estate and construction industry). I am a long-time member of ULI Oklahoma and serve on the advisory committee and have been membership chairman for that organization.”
Isabel: “I have been an AIA member since 1999. I am proud to be a founding member of the Oklahoma City chapter of NAWIC, the National Association of Women in Construction. We created the chapter at the end of last year.”
Tell me about your first job in architecture.
Betsy: “Let’s talk about my second job: it was with a firm that does healthcare architecture. Through that experience, I learned that healthcare planning and design is my niche, my passion.”
Isabel: “I worked with an architect in Mexico City, he was working on a very interesting church project. The shape of the church represented the Lady of Guadalupe’s veil. At the front of the church there was a huge stained-glass window with her face.”
What do you like most about your job as an architect?
Betsy: “I love to draw and design spaces. And, I love working with my clients. I really love doing health care architecture because there are so many nuances to designing a healing space There’s no way I can ever stop learning because healthcare is an everchanging area and we are constantly needing to learn about the changes in order to provide the best product to care for patients.”
Isabel: “I love to see the buildings we have designed and worked on completed and being used. Whether it’s a church, school or recreational facility, it feels good knowing that you and your team envisioned a space that is now being used and enjoyed.”
If you had to verbalize a slogan for your life—something you live by or a principle—what would it be?
Betsy: “You can never do something by yourself better than you can do it with a team. Working with other people and relying on their strengths will always produce the best outcomes.”
Isabel: “Set your goals and see them through.”
At this point in your career you have some level of responsibility for mentoring employees. What is are some tips you share with young professionals?
Betsy: “I let the people I’m mentoring know that I want them to grow to be the best they can be. They don’t have to take my same career path or approach things the same way I do.”
Isabel: “Be patient, learning everything there is to learn takes time.”
I know you both love traveling. What’s on the horizon for your next trip(s)?
Betsy: “My next trips need to be Machu Pichu and Egypt. I enjoy traveling, especially to cities – to see how other people live and what their built environment looks like.”
Isabel: “Greece, Morocco, and Australia.”
Besides traveling what do you like to do in your limited free time?
Betsy: “I’m always busy with projects around the house… and I L-O-V-E playing with the grandkids!”
Isabel: “I love to ride my bike and feel the wind in my face, speeding down hills and feeling the accomplishment of completing a long ride. I also love taking the boys hiking in the Wichita Mountains.”
What is your favorite building, piece of architecture or place in Oklahoma
Betsy: “First National Center.”
Isabel: “I love Oklahoma City’s Civic Center.”
What are you reading right now?
Betsy: “The Devil in White City by Erik Larson”
Isabel: “Lots of children’s books at bedtime.”
What influences you today?
Betsy: “My daughter. She makes sure that i am aware of things that are going on in the world.”
Isabel: “My mom still inspires me. She always talked to us about pursuing our dreams. I try to share that with my boys, today. There is nothing we can’t accomplish if we commit to it and work hard.”
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Betsy: “My most cherished thing about me is that I have raised two amazing people who are wonderful adults.”
Isabel: “I am still working on it: raising two wonderful kids.”
How would you describe yourself?
Betsy: “I’m happy.”
Isabel: “I never give up.”
Just a note on ADG: The firm began in 1975 as an interior design firm. The rapidly-growing company now provides architecture, planning, interior design, engineering, program management, landscape architecture and urban planning services throughout Oklahoma and the nation, creating successful projects for government, corporate, healthcare, education, multifamily and religious clients. With nearly 80 employees, ADG consistently ranks as one of the largest design firms in Oklahoma. Firm projects have won design and community awards, including the Oklahoma Urban Land Institute’s Large Commercial Development award for the University of Oklahoma’s Residential Colleges, opened in fall 2017.
Want to know more? Contact Anne-Marie Funk @firstname.lastname@example.org or 405.232.5700.