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Young Designers Professional Development Institute (YDPDI)

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Image courtesy of Aminah McNulty.

Winner, AIA Emerging Professionals Program of the Year Award

The BSA’s Young Designers Professional Development Institute (YDPDI) builds the core competencies young designers need most now to improve performance, add value and increase versatility in your firm. Topics include Mastering BIM/IPD, Managing Finances, Improving Negotiating Skills, Presentation Skills, Marketing and Business Development, Writing Skills, Improving Communications, Partnering With Clients and Contractors and Planning Optimal Career Development.

Enrollment information

The first YDPDI session begins October 2, 2018, and enrollment is now open. Please complete a copy of this registration form for each registrant. Scan/email to Li Lam at [email protected], or mail to YDPDI, c/o BSA, 290 Congress Street, Suite 200, Boston, MA 02210.

Registration form

For information about program content, contact William Ronco, program director at [email protected] or 617-686-5005.

October 2018–August 2019 Workshop Schedule

Workshops are scheduled from 2:00–6:00 pm and include an office tour and lunch.


October 2, 2018
William Ronco, YDPDI director, YDPDI Alumni
Stavroula Birmbas, Tervacorp

Location: Payette, Boston

Young designers’ special career challenges, opportunities. Building on your strengths, addressing weaknesses. Clarifying your career and professional roadmap.


November 6, 2018
Kristine Gorman, Jacobs
Dana Kelly, Bruner Cott

Location: HMFH, Cambridge ​

Identifying your “brand.” Why, how to sell and market to existing and new clients. Identifying your unique sales/marketing identity and approach.


Location: Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, Boston

YDPDI fee includes any 3 ABX 2018 workshops.


December 14, 2018

​Location: Wilson Architects, Boston

New project management tools, strategies. Beyond time, achieving work/life balance. Setting, achieving meaningful goals. Forming new habits.


January 29, 2019
Kim Plummer, Partners Health Care
George Takoudes, NBBJ

Location: Jacobs, Boston

Anticipating, understanding predictable architect/ contractor differences; using differences as a resource. Improving meetings discussion and follow through. Solving problems, generating solutions.


February 26, 2019
Robert Ferguson, Esq., Hinckley
Robert Douglas, Town of Andover

Location: Turner Construction, Boston

Recognizing your negotiations style, strengths, weaknesses. Identifying key negotiations situations. Approaching negotiations to achieve 1 + 1 = 3 results.


March 26, 2019
Jess Smith, Bergmeyer
Shelley Kolesar, HR Consultant
Diana Hasan, CE Floyd

Location: Commodore Builders, Waltham

HR knowledge essential for young professionals: legal rights, vulnerabilities, boundaries. Salary best practices. Why and how to work with your HR manager.


April 23, 2019
Maggie O’Toole, LabCentral
Jonathan Hayward, Partners Health Care
Ralph DeFlorio, Harvard University

Location: LabCentral, Cambridge

How contractors and architects frustrate clients. What keeps clients up at night. Responding to client needs in different market sectors. How to increase repeat business.


May 21, 2019
Scott Lerner, Consigli Construction
Mark Paronich, Delphi Construction
Mark Teden, Mass Housing

Location: Consigli Construction, Milford, MA

Increasing project cost controls and profit. Spotting, addressing financial problems quickly. Achieving full financial literacy, meeting current standards. Understanding company finances, your role and impact as a young professional.


June 6, 2019
Roger Goldstein, FAIA, Goody Clancy
Toni Loiacano, Cannon Design

Location: Goody Clancy, Boston

Defining, achieving the next level in your career growth. Using 360 surveys to increase awareness. Building both strategic and collaborative leadership competencies.


June 18, 2019
Charles Antone, Bldg Enclosure Science
Janet Chrisos, MSCBA
Shawn Guertin, TG Gallagher

Location: TG Gallagher Fab Shop, Andover

Applying the most current tech tools. Defining BIM optimal uses. Understanding, implementing Lean methods. Using Integrated Project Delivery and “IPD- Lite.” Overcoming, managing resistance to change.


July 10, 2019
William Ronco, Ph.D., YDPDI Director
Chris Floyd, CE Floyd Construction

Location: Shepley, Boston

Skills-building workshop improves your writing professionalism, efficiency and coherence and speed. Focus on “difficult” emails, reports and proposals. How to write more persuasive emails. Why and how to get published.


August 7, 2019
Kathy McMahon, National Development
Alex Dupnik, Dyer Brown

Location: Bruner Cott, Boston

Hands-on workshop increases confidence and builds skills. Learn to improve your materials, tell compelling stories and facilitate engaging, lively discussion.

Program Costs, Benchmarks, ROI

The $3,500 fee for the 12-month program is an excellent and small investment for any firm to make in its employees and in its future:

  • Cost of conventional two-day management seminars = $2,100, much more per session for a “canned” program that lacks the sustained continuity and networking YDPDI provides.
  • The cost to a firm of turnover, often triggered by frustration with career development, is typically 1.5 times the person’s annual salary.
  • The cost to a firm of diminished productivity resulting from lack of skills = ?????

Benefits / Outcomes For Participants

Training and development are intangible but they can produce very tangible results. Participants’ outcomes from participating in the program include:

  • Improved ability to add value in their firms
  • Increased skills taking on new, challenging tasks
  • Increased performance in areas that matter most for the firm’s performance
  • Improved ability to develop meaningful relationships with clients
  • Increased performance in marketing, business development and networking
  • Development of essential skills e.g. communicating, writing, presenting, managing projects, managing finances, marketing, managing CA and CD, etc.
  • Acquisition of perspective resulting from interaction with peers from other firms, instructors, and interaction with contractors in the Young Contractors program
  • Increased focus, job satisfaction and motivation resulting from all the above

Benefits / Outcomes For Sponsoring Firms

Beyond the individual participants, it is also quite possible for sponsoring firms to benefit as organizations from participating in the program:

  • Improved retention and development of key talent
  • Increased marketing and business development activity and success
  • Improved morale and firm spirit resulting from clear demonstration of the firm’s commitment to professional development for young designers
  • Increased understanding and improved working relationships across levels, departments and groups in the firm
  • Acquisition of current ideas and fresh perspective on best practices being developed by other firms and industry experts participating in the program
  • Improved employee alignment with the firm’s strategic plan
  • Raised expectations for job performance and productivity from program participants
  • Use of the program to strengthen the firm’s efforts at mentoring and coaching between senior managers and younger designers
  • Recognition of the firm as an Excellent Employer

What’s YDPDI Really Like?

Young professionals encounter a skills gap several years after they begin their design career: their job responsibilities shift to include many more tasks that involve communications. YDPDI fills this gap, and more. Each monthly YDPDI seminar builds understanding and ability in young designers’ most important communications and management competencies. Participants build both essential skills and relationships with each other. YDPDI provides opportunities to explore alternative paths for professional development and insights to build a highly satisfying career.

"One of the greatest benefits of YDPDI for our firm’s participants is the opportunity to observe and learn from other firms. The architecture community can sometimes be somewhat closed. Interacting with their peers from other companies gives our employees great perspective on things we do well, as well as on things that we can do better. YDPDI also provides them with an outlet for ideas, frustrations and problem- solving in a neutral, supportive environment."
—Carol Gillen, Partner, Sierra Architects

"I have heard members of the profession suggest that they would love to do more to support their young designers, but they simply do not have the resources. I think if they step back and look more holistically at their practice and the overall state of the industry, they would realize that they cannot afford not to be involved in the effort.Our investment over many years in training our young staff in the BSA’s Young Designers Professional Development Institute has contributed significantly to the firm’s success. I heartily encourage any firm that is not yet investing resources in this area to do so."
—Jim Collins, Senior Principal, Payette

"When I started YDPDI I was acutely aware of the information gap at this phase in my career. I was managing projects and people without any formal management training. YDPDI helps to bridge this gap with classes focused on relevant topics within the design industry. The monthly class format and relaxed atmosphere foster an environment where students feel comfortable asking questions and sharing their experiences. As a result of this course I have become a better writer, leader and communicator. Most importantly, I have noticed the positive impact of these improved skills in my career. This course is an excellent resource for young designers looking to move forward in their career."
—Jen Taylor, Senior Designer / Manager, Stantec

"My favorite part of YDPDI was having a forum in which to meet colleagues in the engineering and construction industries. Open, friendly communication between the parties that comprise the AEC industry is key to successful building, and YDPDI sets the stage for just that. Bill thoughtfully organized our sessions, fostering meaningful dialogue between industries and mutual understanding of our various points of view. One example of this was using the Myers-Briggs test as a lens through which to understand our own leadership styles. Working with the contractors and engineers, we learned how to adapt our own leadership styles to different situations. This helped us analyze how our unique skills and qualities as leaders influence teamwork and the overall communication process. In addition to learning about the interpersonal skills associated with leadership, we studied financial management, negotiation and IDP. By pushing us to work through personal and work-related challenges, YDPDI strengthened our effectiveness as leaders."
—Jenny Ratner, Architect, Safdie Architects

YDPDI First-Person Blog

Describing her personal learning experience, recent YDPDI participant Aminah McNulty, a landscape architect, wrote an excellent blog. Some excerpts:

From the What Clients Really Want session:

“Our instructors Kim Plummer, Partners Health Care/MGH; Emma Corbalan, MIT; Chris Cronin, Town of Andover; and Ralph DeFlorio, Harvard University spanned a range of experiences. This session revolved around targeted questions to probe into the minds of these clients and hear their genuine account of the receiving end of A/E/C services.

From the Improving Writing Skills session:

“I found this session incredibly empowering. This summer, I was asked to create a webinar for a local organization. Countless hours of perfectionism, procrastination and self - sabotage were swept off the table as I was able to draft an outline in ten minutes.”

From the Improving Negotiating Skills session:

“My key takeaways are: listen, find shared goals, understand the other side, know your facts, admit fault and reach a common ground. These tools will no doubt prove useful and effective as I hone my skills as a mediator, persuader and negotiator.”

Here is a link to the complete blog, which also includes terrific pictures:

About YDPI Director William Ronco, Ph.D.

President of Gathering Pace, Inc., William Ronco founded YDPDI 17 years ago. He directs the program, collaborating with the Boston Society of Architects. Dr. Ronco also founded and directs the Young Contractors Professional Institute in collaboration with the Massachusetts Associated General Contractors. Dr. Ronco consults on strategy, leadership and partnering with design, engineering, owner / client, construction, and biotech and science organizations.

He is author of The Partnering Solution (Career Press) and Partnering Manual For Design and Construction (McGraw-Hill). A former professor in Northeastern University’s MBA program, Dr. Ronco earned his B.A. at Rutgers University, his Ed.M. at Harvard and his Ph.D. at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


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