Maggie Lilyblade, Erik Bergstrom, and Randell Johnson: We Are Neenan
Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishment toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.
I have the utmost respect for this week’s three individuals in our We Are Neenan series. Maggie Lilyblade (Interior Designer), Erik Bergstrom (Assistant Project Manager and Sustainability Expert) and Randell Johnson (Business Development) rarely mentioned the words “I” or “Me,” in an individualistic sense, proving that “there is no I in team.” This holds significant meaning when talking about success and a vision for the future. For proof, look no further than the responses given below when Maggie and Randell were both asked to complete the sentence “This year I want to . . . “ and Erik was asked to complete the sentence “Success is . . . “. Despite these being two different statement starts, their answers were agreeably similar.
Maggie: “This year I want to be part of the positive change by working together as one strong, collaborative team. The challenges we have faced this year motivate, influence and WILL create a positive transformation to this company.”
Randell: “This year I want to be part of pulling the company back to its original and successful state.”
Erik: “I think success is being content with where you are at and feeling like you have contributed to something larger than yourself and being surrounded by great people. I do feel like that here. That is definitely one of the great things about working here. I think we have a sense of something greater than ourselves here.”
When Maggie, Erik and Randell were asked “If you could study with any Master, from any time period, who would it be and why?”, a distinct passion for design and creativity also emerged in their responses.
Maggie: “As a designer, I’m influenced by bold designs, creative study and innovative solutions. I am intrigued by Frank Gehry as he is not afraid to step out of his comfort zone and set a true design precedent.”
Erik: “[I would study with] probably Leonardo da Vinci because he was really crazy and also really smart. He worked on interesting projects.”
Randell: “Probably Thomas Jefferson. I think he was a designer . . . He was a politician . . . He was a little bit of a Renaissance Man. He did just about everything, and I think I have always been interested in learning about his take on everything.”
Erik, Randell, and Maggie were asked questions pertaining specifically to Neenan and the design and construction industry as a whole. Their answers are honest and insightful, as you can see.
Erik’s Question: What trend in design and construction are you most excited about?
Answer: “I think the most exciting thing for us is that our industry is sort of going through a revolution in technology right now. We are using computer simulations to design and construct buildings long before we ever touch the dirt on the ground. We are able to walk clients through the buildings and show them exactly what it looks like and find conflicts between the different systems that we would not [otherwise] be able to discover without actually building it or investing a huge amount of time and money to it.”
Randell’s Question: How long have you been at Neenan and what is it that makes you stay?
Answer: “I have been at Neenan for about 17 years. The people I work with and their desire to do the right thing for the client and for the company, the friendships there, the ability to mold my career in a lot of different ways, from management to design to business development. The variety that I get in a design-build firm is a lot more than I could get in just an architectural firm.”
Maggie’s Question: What trend in design and construction are you most excited about?
Answer: “Modern aesthetics seem to be a dominating trend. The clean lines, simple forms, bold colors and patterns really intrigue me. Pulling components of this design trend has become an essential part of my designs, especially when I am trying to highlight key areas in a building. Modern design excites the user and helps define a space.”
Toward the end of the interviews, each employee was asked about the artistic medium they would most like to learn or what is their favorite photograph. For those of you who have been following this series, we are finally moving away from watercolor . . . well, almost.
Maggie: “I love a challenge. Watercolor defines the design challenges we face. With watercolor there must be certainty and confidence in your choices as there’s no room for error. It takes patience and control. I think mastering watercolor would relate directly to my design approach. Be patient, think critically and be flexible to change.”
Erik: [Favorite artistic medium] “Improvisational dance [laughter]. I play guitar. I have been playing since high school or freshman year in college. I played in a punk rock band in college.”
Randell: “Probably a photo of Tiananmen Square. The person standing in front of the tank. I don’t remember if there is a caption of that picture, but I think it stands for someone who is willing to lay it all on the line for what they think is right. It’s courage. It’s fear. It’s good vs. evil.”
Maggie Lilyblade, Erik Bergstrom, and Randell Johnson are three Neenan team members who see a vision of where their organization is going, and they are excited and dedicated to help lead it there. They consistently emphasized the importance of personal accountability, working as a team, and demonstrating and (re) emphasizing the importance of design-build for their industry. We thank them for their energy, creativity and good humor!