What is the best advice you have received from your mentor?
Paul believes that work is about happiness. If the staff is not happy, then Paul always believed that we are doing something wrong. Although we were always running a business, the profits and awards came secondary to health and well-being.
What makes a great mentor?
A great mentor is someone who can be called upon at any time; someone who is willing to help despite busy schedules and project deadlines. A great mentor is able to take a step back, and see the large issues at play by drawing on their experience and outside perspective.
Do/will you act as a mentor for others and why?
Yes. I am currently an OAA mentor, as well as a member of the mentorship subcommittee of the OAA Intern’s Committee. Throughout my career, I have also engaged in many community-engagement projects that involved teaching community members about architecture and design. Lastly, I continue to remain involved in the schools that I attended (Ryerson and UofT), whenever possible.
What is the most difficult part of transitioning from school to work?
When in school, architecture students are taught about budgets, building codes, permits, and approvals. But all of these things are not real to you until you transition into the working world.
Once out of school, you must go from being a one-person army, taking on every role in building design, to a team player. You must learn to work with engineers, surveyors, contractors, other architects, and most importantly, clients.
Do you have any advice for current Intern Architects or mentors?
Do not use mentorship as a box to be checked, but really find someone who can help and guide you through the IAP process and your career. Being a mentor and mentee is a two-way street and a life-long journey.
Steve Socha, OAA, works for Altius Architecture in Toronto and is also an IAP mentor himself.
Paul Dowsett, OAA, is a Principal Architect at Sustainable.To, a LEED Accredited Professional, and a CanPHI Passive House Planner. He credits Carson Woods, OAA, FRAIC as his lifelong mentor, teaching him that running an architecture firm is about supporting and allowing your staff to grow.