This Q&A is part of a series of interviews with Gensler architects, designers, and others in the firm about their career journey, and the impact that design and architecture can have on our communities and the human experience. Here, we sit down with Ana Salazar, a design manager in Gensler’s Houston office:
What is your Hispanic heritage and what do you admire about it?
I was born and raised in Monterrey, Mexico. What I admire most about our culture is that we strongly emphasize the importance of family. Culturally, we have always been resilient people. We are known for being ready for anything that life throws at us, and we approach it with a positive attitude and a spirit of ingenuity.
How does your heritage influence your design approach?
Mexican style has always been known for the use of natural materials, climate adaptation, and rich-hued colors and textures. Our architecture has always been adaptive, resilient, and focused on creating more with less. These influences have made me sensitive to material selection and integration. It has also ignited my passion for sustainability and the inclusion of nature.
What was your journey to Gensler like?
My journey at Gensler has been exciting. As a creative, I feel surrounded by highly talented people, and there are many opportunities to design and grow your own career path. It’s also gratifying to see the commitment and leading mentality of Gensler in topics like sustainability, diversity, and innovation in all fronts. We are not trend chasers but trend setters.
What are some ways our industry can encourage more diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)?
I believe one of the biggest ways companies can start promoting DEI is by understanding unconscious bias and building awareness at all levels of the organization. Other ways are a bit more complex but not impossible, like acknowledging all cultures, equal pay, DEI training, and ensuring representation in teams — with every small step we take towards addressing these issues we are creating a more inclusive culture in the industry.
What’s something you’d like people to know?
Regardless of what was the catalyst for various industries to be more concerned and committed to DEI, it is critical to keep the momentum going and capitalize upon this interest. I’m glad that this movement has opened up a platform for people like me and others to show who we are beyond the stereotypes and see the richness of what other cultures bring to the table.
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