Insights from WM: Perspectives and the Horizon

A unique aspect of Ware Malcomb’s culture is the long tenure of many of our leaders. We want to share some of their unique stories, highlighting the qualities they possess that have led to their career success at WM and the growth opportunities the firm avails.

Director, Corporate Accounts
Joined Ware Malcomb in 2005 as Project Manager

RB: Can you tell me more about how you got your start in the architecture industry and the experiences that led you to Ware Malcomb?
AG: I began my career as an intern for Disney supporting their senior architects, mostly doing field survey work. I had the most amazing boss who was very supportive, a great mentor and always encouraged me to ask questions.  When he left Disney to go to another firm, I went and worked for him for another six years, mostly on a large corporate account.

Anita in her first office at Disney where she began her career working for the Architecture team in Anaheim, CA.

RB: You’ve held five different roles at Ware Malcomb. What were some of the milestones you have reached over the last 15 years?
AG: When I moved on to Ware Malcomb, I took a job as a project manager for the interiors team at a time that the company was growing quickly. I started taking on more responsibility and began managing a team.

I was promoted to Studio Manager in 2006 and in 2008, I became the Director of Interiors for the Irvine office until 2014 when I had the opportunity to grow the interiors team in Los Angeles. It was a really big leap for me. I had done some business development, but it wasn’t my forte, and it soon became a focus of mine. I really wanted to push myself and I felt like I was ready for the next step to grow the market. Throughout my time in L.A., I worked on a lot of corporate accounts and we developed many repeat clients. This proved to be a success for Ware Malcomb, and when it became a goal to grow corporate accounts, they needed to create a leadership position to drive the initiative. I was ready to move back to Orange County, so in 2017, I took on the role of Director, Corporate Accounts at the headquarters office.

Ware Malcomb takes Halloween to the next level. Anita and members of the interiors team even dressed up as the Muppets one year!

RB: What Skills did you develop over the years at Ware Malcomb that made you the right fit for leading Corporate Accounts?
AG: My time leading the interiors team and growing the market in L.A. positioned me for the role because it exposed me to the way Ware Malcomb did business. Growing a new team is like growing a new corporate account. It required me to get creative, think differently, work differently and find new solutions to challenges.

I’m also a very process-oriented person, so I can plan, but I’m also very adaptable. I’m a big believer in there being more than one solution to a problem, and I like to look at all the options before making a decision. This is apparent in both my professional and personal life. Starting in my early 20’s, I made it a goal to visit every continent before I turned 40. Every year, I would go somewhere different by myself. I would plan, but not very stringently and figured the rest out once I was there, adapting to the environment as needed. While there were challenges, I still made my goal when I went to Antarctica, my seventh continent, seven months before my 40th birthday.

Anita on her trip to Antarctica, marking a major milestone in her life as she visited her seventh and final continent.

RB: What intrigued you the most about corporate accounts that made you want to specialize in that arena?
AG: I liked the idea of having a platform to expand what I knew we could already do and do well. I wanted to be a part of making a cohesive approach and bringing added value to Ware Malcomb and our clients.  I enjoy creating consistency across the board by looking at our corporate accounts nationally and developing ideas, protocols and standards that could be used in all our offices.

When the opportunity presented itself, the leaders at Ware Malcomb had the faith that I could do this even though it started as just an idea. I took it day-by-day and I was never afraid because I knew the leadership was there to support me. They taught me that it’s ok to fail and hit speedbumps because that’s how we learn and grow.

I’m really proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish in corporate accounts. I’ve become a resource to our firm, and I love when people call me and ask to get involved. It’s a great feeling to create something of your own with an incredible support structure.

RB: As a female in a leadership position, what advice would you give to other women in the industry as they progress in their careers?
AG: Going into the industry, I was prepared to enter a male-dominated world. I always over prepared so I could walk into the room confidently. I made sure I knew the information, especially on the technical side, because the more I knew technically, the more credible I became.  I took advantage of tapping into the knowledge of the senior team members. If you are inquisitive and understand that the reason why you do things, you’ll have a much better chance of being successful.

Lastly, it’s important to walk into an environment knowing you’re an equal. Don’t ever allow yourself to be made to feel less than.

RB: What made you stay at Ware Malcomb for 15 years?
AG: The culture. I love the way we work, the people who work here, how we collaborate and the opportunities we’re provided. I always thought being a project manager would be the pinnacle of my career and that over time, the projects would just get more complex. Being given the opportunity to manage people, and then join leadership, has kept my career interesting. I’m allowed to be creative and it keeps my brain churning. I’m always engaged.

Anita and the Ware Malcomb Los Angeles team at the 2014 IIDA LA Haunt Couture event.