Born: Ithaca, New York
Education: MBA, Stanford; bachelor’s degree, economics, Dartmouth
First job: When I was 11, I worked in the print room at Gensler. When I was 16, I created a company called Rough and Ready Beef Jerky Distributing Co. A friend and I sold beef jerky wholesale to grocery stores.
What is the biggest business challenge you’ve faced?
The guy who recruited me said it was time for me to join the firm. I was the CFO of another company. I was about to take this company public, and I said it’s not the right time.
He spent about three months trying to convince me it was the right time, and I decided to take the leap. We agreed it would be better if I didn’t start [in San Francisco] in Art’s shadow, so I went down to L.A. For six years, I helped build our consulting practice.
Then I got an opportunity to go to London. I took my whole family with me. We stayed for three years. That experience of taking four young kids and my wife to London, and learning how to lead the design practice of an office and learning how to understand a new culture, and all the differences between Europe and America, that was one of the most exciting, challenging and rewarding experiences of my professional and personal life.
When I arrived, it was about 140 people, and when I left, it was about 325 people. I got to know what it’s like to lead people in a very personal and exciting way.
What is the best business lesson you’ve learned?
It’s hard to do something great, and if you don’t have the stomach for it, don’t take it on. The mantle of leadership in an organization is heavy, and if you really want to do something great, it takes a huge commitment.