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DPW's 2021 Women's Month Celebration Spotlights Haewon Kim-LaBroad

Haewon Kim-LaBroad is a DPW Business member, celebrated professional and a registered architect with nearly two decades of healthcare planning and design experience in a wide range of project types and scale. Her strong interest in the psychological aspect of architecture- the impact built environment has on human psyche and behavior- fuels her desire to make a positive impact in architecture, especially for those who are most vulnerable and in need of a nurturing and healing environment.

Her areas of Specialties include: Healthcare Architecture, Healthcare Planning and Design, Outpatient Facilities

During DPW's 20201 Women's Celebration Month, Haewon was nominated to be spotlighted among her peers. In addition to being a leader in her profession, Haewon Kim-LaBroad was currently promoted to Associate Principal of her firm, Hoefer Welker. She is now the second highest ranking female in the company, and the only organically promoted female ever in the company to reach her level. She is truly a leader in her company. She is now also Co-Chair of the AIA Dallas Women in Leadership for the next two years and charged to continue empowering and leading other women in her profession. She is a true leader, mentor, teacher, and also very accredited, accomplished and talented in her field.

Let's learn more about Haewon...

DPW: What’s one thing you wish you had known when you began your career?

I thought architecture was about creating space and a physical building, but learned that it is so much more. Architecture is about community advocacy, social development, and cultural evolution. It’s about bringing people together to work, relax, celebrate, love and heal. Architects not only shape the space that we occupy, but have a hand in transforming the society in which we live and bringing people together.

DPW: What is your biggest failure, and what did you learn from it?

After the birth of my first child, I constantly struggled with balancing the competing demands of a challenging career and my family. I constantly worried about one while doing the other, and always felt like if I was succeeding at one, I was failing at the other. It caused a lot of personal stress and struggle mentally. I eventually learned to separate the two, by learning to focus and give 100% of my attention to role instead of trying to be everything at once. Through this struggle and realization, I realized that I could be successful at both.

DPW: What advice would you give someone wanting to pursue a career similar to yours?

Architecture is a rewarding yet extremely demanding profession. To be successful, you must focus on being good, being curious, and constantly learning and developing your skills. It is a time driven profession, so you must have patience to excel and rise in this industry. Always be proactive and the advocate for your own growth.

DPW: Who are the three people who have been the most influential to you? ∙ Who has been the biggest influence on your career? Why?

I grew up in a family of entrepreneurs who taught me that working hard, having passion and being committed will bring happiness and success. The motto I live and work by, “Do What You Love,” was ingrained in me by my parents and example they set throughout our lives.

DPW: What's the best advice you ever received?

The best advice I received in my career came from my boss right after I had my first child. I struggled with the balance of professional goals and aspirations versus responsibilities and commitments that came with being a new mom. John, being a family man himself, calmly explained that there are two paths I can take to achieve my goals and aspiration: the fast highway or the scenic route. He explained that as long as I maintained dedication to my growth and kept my eyes on the goal, both paths lead to same destination. The only difference is the speed in which I arrive, and it was okay to choose the more scenic route. To this day, when I face struggles of work‐ life balance, I remind myself of this conversation I had with him over a decade ago.

DPW: What lessons have you learned in your professional life?

In order to succeed, you have passion for what you do. If you don’t love what you do, it’s just work. Architecture is a demanding profession, but produces high return on social contribution, self‐fulfillment, and pride. One must always keep site of the passion and the why in choosing architecture as a profession in the first place. My motivation has always been the impact my work has on people lives, both emotionally and physically, particularly in healthcare when people are at their most vulnerable.

DPW: What professional achievement makes you proudest? Why?

I am most proud of the day I received my architectural licensure. It took almost 20 years in the making to take a dream I had as a little 8‐year old girl and turned it into a reality. All the sleepless nights spent in contemplating design solutions in the studio during undergraduate years to rigorous hours spent studying and sitting for an 8‐part licensing exam that spanned from design to MEP to structure to contract law. It is an accomplishment any architect should be proud of.

DPW: What is the one common myth about your profession or field that you want to debunk?

Because architecture is a creative industry, it is often considered an art. What people often do not realize is that the time, money, and commitment a person invests to become a licensed architect is similar to becoming an MD, with six years of higher education plus over 3700 hours of internship. Additionally, we are also responsible for the health and welfare of the people we build for. Ironically, we are paid like an artists, so most architects probably couldn’t afford to live in the beautiful buildings they create.

DPW: How do you continue to learn in order to stay on top of things within your role?

The more I learn and grow, the more I realize that I don’t know enough. So, I ask a lot of questions, continue to stay involved in my industry associations and programs, and then Google everything.

DPW: What’s been the biggest failure in the last year and why do you think that happened?

I don’t look at it as failure, but an opportunity for growth. The moment where I felt like a failure was when I struggled to make the adjustment working full time at home while simultaneously “homeschooling” my two boys during the quarantine. There was a moment where I was ready to throw in the towel because I felt I was failing at managing it all and not being successful at any of it. I had to learn to let some things go, focus on only the most important, and learn to just go with the flow.

DPW: Do you consider yourself a builder OR developer?

I think they go hand in hand. While I do design and develop buildings, I feel like I am also building relationships and connecting people. Architecture is not just paper and pen, or bricks and mortar. It’s about creating spaces for people to appreciate, celebrate, live in, work in and come together.

Being a healthcare designer, I am creating places that people come to heal, be with loved ones, and even sometimes mourn.

DPW: What is your favorite vacation spot?

Always the beach! My family and I are beach bums at heart and our most memorable vacation was a stay on a private island in Bahamas. The quiet, unplugged serenity was the most relaxing vacation we ever had. I dream of going back there again once we get this pandemic under control.

DPW: How do you manage stress?

Drive/ sleep/ binge watch Netflix to clear my mind of the source of stress. Once I clear my mind, I am able to regroup and tackle the issue head on.

DPW: What would you tell your younger self if you were able to go back in time?

Travel more, don’t be afraid, and enjoy the moment. Don’t worry about what others think, do what makes you happy.

DPW: What type of pep talks do you give yourself?

When in doubt, just do it; don’t over think it, just do it.

DPW: What is one stereotype that you want to break if you had a chance to talk about it?

Too many in our industry seem to think that you cannot have a successful architecture career while raising a family. That we have to give up some part of one to be successful in the other. However, I know that women can have a terrific career while being a great mother at the same time. I know that with work, you can find a balance that allows you to meet the requirements of your architecture career and the demands of a successful family.


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