Alumni Spotlight:
Micki Washington
(M.Arch. '04)

March 21, 2024

Name: Micki Washington
Hometown: Houston, Texas
Major: Master of Architecture
Graduation Year: 2004
Employer: BP
Title: Workplace Strategy & Change Management Lead for the Americas

Why did you choose the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design? What drew you to design?
I returned home to Houston after graduating with my Bachelor of Science in Architecture degree from the University of Texas at Arlington and needed to complete the 4+2 program I enrolled in. I have always had a passion for design and the built environment.

What is one of your favorite memories from your time on campus? Was there a particular professor who influenced your education?
Among the many who influenced me along the way, quite a few professors made for a memorable experience:

  • Donna Kacmar inspired me to look past the glass ceiling.
  • Patrick Peters helped me to appreciate the craft of design/build and how design influences construction.
  • Rives Taylor inspired my love of sustainable design.
  • Thomas Colbert helped me appreciate Houston’s architecture up close (by foot).

above: Washington participating in an AIA Houston Women in Architecture Panel; The Houston NOMA board celebrating at the end of 2023

Tell us about a typical day in your job. Do you have a particular design or business philosophy?
My day typically consists of me asking varied leaders of departments or businesses about their day-to-day, listening to why they do what they do, and understanding their drivers and concerns. Then, I usually spend time with my colleagues and industry experts gathering research on various topics, including design considerations of inclusivity, workplace trends, real estate stats, and more. I follow up by sharing findings and developing ideal strategies for the businesses. I am drawn to the “why” behind everything, so my philosophy is to listen more, talk less, and ask more than I answer.

What is one career accomplishment of which you are particularly proud? How do you feel the College prepared you for this?
I am proud of becoming a leader in the workplace. I did not know at the time that when our professors would move our classes to other parts of the building or even outside while we worked or take a brief meditative stretch to refocus or center our thoughts, it was an early introduction to my experience and appreciation for have a variety of environments to work in. It taught me that everyone learns differently and needs different environments where they can work or refresh. Regardless of the environment and variety of options, we needed to take breaks and get up and away from whatever we were fixated on to give our eyes, minds, and bodies a rest/reset.

Vision care, Social group, Smile, Glasses, Eyewear
Fashion design, Smile, Shoe, Textile, Style, Eyewear

LEFT TO RIGHT: Washington received the 2022 Bisnow Houston award for C-suite Women Leading Real Estate and attended the ceremony with fellow alumna crystal granger (M.Arch. '04); Houston NOMA board members attended the hair salon exhibition at the hines college in February 2023

What is one valuable lesson you learned during your time at the Hines College?
Communication is key. I learned to communicate my needs, what I needed help with, and what I could or could not do. While attending school, I worked at a small firm, so deadlines sometimes clashed with exams or client meetings with juries. As long as I communicated those conflicts, my employer and professors were more than willing to work with me on resolutions that did not penalize me and helped me achieve both deliverables. Speaking with my professors if I did not understand the content thoroughly also helped me excel. Once I expressed my needs, they could provide what I needed to understand and stay on track.

What advice would you give to current architecture and design students?
Never be afraid to speak up and ask for help, as you will not get what you need otherwise. Do not be afraid to explore and get exposed to different aspects of architecture, as your career may take you down many other paths that you might fall in love with. Lastly, find a mentor and advocate who can give you advice when you want it and make the introductions you may need.

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