Joining Tim Miller and Jim Armer as past mentors hailing from CTA, architect Tom Calla will soon be serving as a mentor for Boise Young Professionals‘ 2017 Spring B|Wise Mentoring Program. We ran Calla — who’s worked as an architect in Louisiana, Alaska, New York, and Idaho — through a little Q&A as a preview to what his new mentees might expect.
WHAT IS YOUR EDUCATIONAL HISTORY?
I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture from Louisiana State University. Geaux Tigers!
WHAT IS YOUR DEFINITION OF A LEADER?
One who helps individuals set their goals and reach their potential. Someone who is a decision-maker with an eye on the future. One who builds teams, outlines where the team is going, and empowers others in moving the team forward.
WHAT ARE YOU PASSIONATE ABOUT IN THE A/E INDUSTRY?
Working with our clients, designing the built environment, seeing our projects completed, delivering successful projects, and building, mentoring and working with the teams in our firm.
WHAT ARE SOME IMPORTANT LIFE LESSONS YOU’VE LEARNED?
Have patience, stay calm, and make good decisions.
WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO GAIN FROM THIS EXPERIENCE?
I want to meet new folks from different industries and career paths, and help them grow professionally. I enjoy helping people set goals and plot courses for accomplishing their goals. Also, I hope I can learn more about myself and my career from the group.
DO YOU THINK HAVING A MENTOR IS IMPORTANT FOR GROWING AS A PROFESSIONAL?
Yes, I think mentors’ experience can help you navigate through your career. Learning from their experiences is super beneficial. And they are able to help you focus your career.
DID YOU HAVE MENTOR WHEN YOU WERE AN ASPIRING ARCHITECT?
Not in a formal setting, no; more just observing, learning, and questioning the senior folks in the offices I worked in. I probably would’ve liked it to a little more structured, honestly. I think that would’ve helped me stay on a certain track and navigate the business side of my development.
I’ve always liked interacting with leaders more senior than myself. I felt like they were handing me down information from previous generations, and I always found that super beneficial because I would learn about history — both the “what” and the “why.” I liked the historical aspect of what they would teach me. Afterwards, I would feel empowered to take the information and move forward.
DO YOU THINK THERE’S A MAX AGE FOR BEING A MENTEE?
I don’t think you can quite be too old or experienced to have a mentor. Everybody always needs a sounding board, a different perspective and look at things. It’s great to bounce issues off of others, especially if they have more experience than you. You come across a lot of different situations over the span of a career; careers are always changing, and everyone can use a little help along the way.
AS A MENTOR YOURSELF, WHAT’S ONE PIECE OF ADVICE YOU’D WANT TO DRILL INTO A YOUNG PROFESSIONAL?
Always have a vision! Set yourself a path and kind of know where you’re going. The plan can be amended, but always be looking forward. To do that, I think you need to pay attention, and observe your industry and how things work. What parts of your industry or business interest you, and where do you think you’d fit the best? Try to set your career going down that path.