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Thomas R. Gearsgears-tom

President/CEO, SWBR

Years in current role: 4

What do you enjoy most about your role?

As an architect, I’ve enjoyed designing a vision for success with my clients and collaborating with multiple team members to achieve that goal. Similarly, as CEO, I’ve enjoyed setting a vision and helping our people and our organization to grow. It’s been rewarding to help mentor so many of our people who are rising as firm and community leaders. Our work is highly satisfying because we’ve experienced how well-designed environments positively impact our community.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve dealt with over the past year?

As we’ve moved from working in the office to working from home to a hybrid environment over the last year, we’ve been challenged to maintain the unique culture we’ve worked so hard to create as a best firm to work for. We’ve upped our level of communication and transparency, rallied around our new strategic plan and celebrated our successes, personal and professional. We’ve established a JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion) group to re-examine our policies and procedures, learn together, and be comfortable having the sometimes-uncomfortable discussions about how we must evolve moving forward. We are eager to socialize together more!

What do you see as the biggest changes in the real estate and construction industries in the next 3-5 years?

In terms of project delivery, traditionally the industry has had a design, bid, then build approach. Design professionals did their work, a competitive bidding process took place, and the builder constructed. We now see collaborative processes that engage the best problem solvers together, sooner. Designers, estimators, contractors and subcontractors working together throughout the process. From a technology point of view, there is more information sharing. Complex building information models (BIM) in the design phase produce better visualizations of the final product. We’re evaluating artificial intelligence platforms to provide increased building performance and energy efficiency. We are advancing toward the ultimate goal of achieving carbon-neutral construction in the next decade.

What community organizations do you support as a volunteer and why?

I’m serving on the St. John’s Foundation Board to help support programs and environments that maximize the independence, connectedness, and joy in the lives of elders in our community.

I also serve on MCC’s Golf tournament committee, which helps to raise funds for scholarships for students who might not otherwise have the opportunity to attend college to pursue their dreams.

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