The Next Generation Leadership: Scott Shannon
June 23, 2022
“In his professional life, these qualities inform and activate his approach to architecture and indeed his leadership. Scott arrives early, does the hard work, and has always been hopeful about the future, even when facing down difficult circumstances.”
This blog is the fourth in a series that focuses on the five principals, the individuals who form the new leadership at the firm.
In my 30+ years of leadership at Dreyfuss + Blackford, I have learned many lessons. They have illustrated the need for active listening, clear communication, optimism about the future and a focused rigor for the details. As I have placed the reins of the firm into the hands of the next generation, I take great comfort in the knowledge that Bay Area architect, Scott Shannon, has a deep understanding of these lessons, giving him the unique ability to simultaneously manage our healthcare studio while running our San Francisco office.
Though Scott has intentionally built a base in urban cultural centers for the majority of his career, he spent his youth on a small rural family-run farm. This balance of interest in art and architecture from city environments contrasts with this grounding in the rural farmlands of Pennsylvania and has been central to shaping his outlook on life.
As one who has lived on the land, Scott understood the seasons and the cycles of the year – when to plant, when to sow, how to rise early and accomplish a lot, and be hopeful about the future. This includes dedication to the work, the rigor. And now, in his professional life, these qualities inform and activate his approach to architecture and indeed his leadership. Scott arrives early, does the hard work, and has always been hopeful about the future, even when facing down difficult circumstances. The grit acquired in his young life shaped him and gave him an outlook that has made a durable impact on the work we do.
Scott is both a scholar and a communicator. His formal education at Carnegie Mellon University and his years of practice have given him an ability to understand people, communicate clearly, and manage the process of complex architectural projects; his dedication has always been to have a positive impact on people. He was drawn to architecture for its potential to have a positive, tangible impact on people’s lives. His natural affinity for helping people drew him into developing an expertise in healthcare architecture.
Although healthcare has been his focus over multiple decades, his real superpower is client management. I can think of no project that is more emblematic of Scott’s skillset in communication with clients than Contra Costa County Emergency Operations Center. He forged a strong bond with the client because he really listened and deeply understood the outcome the client wanted. His thorough communication with the team and client was the durable bridge required to span some challenging times. This active listening and clear communication have been core to his skills as a leader.
Dreyfuss + Blackford has grown considerably over the 13 years that Scott has been with the firm. While leading our regional healthcare practice, he also skillfully opened and manages our office in San Francisco. He has been integral to shaping our “One Firm, Two Offices” approach to this expansion. After nearly 33 years in San Francisco, Scott’s deep knowledge of the Bay Area has been instrumental in penetrating this new marketplace for the firm. He has helped us shape a practice in San Francisco and been core to its culture and its success.
As we transition to the next generation of leaders, we are also changing our leadership model. This new model is more inclusive and collaborative and demands more transparency and communication. For new leaders to be successful they need to be super communicators who listen deeply, have an optimistic view of the future and a dogged dedication to the details. Scott Shannon is naturally built for this challenge.