Thank you to Ted Cutler and Tecton Architects for hosting us this month in their beautiful office space in Hartford.
Ted Cutler has an amazing story. It's not often that you get to sit down with someone who began his career as an intern in 1995 and worked his way up to become CEO in 2012. After graduating from a 5-year program at Penn State, Ted traveled and had internships, but had a hard time finding a job. He started creating business for himself, designing basements and home offices. And then he found Tecton. He took an unpaid internship with Tecton and quickly realized that the company aligned with him personally.
The company began to grow, and Ted was allowed to take on challenges early on, and grew with the company. In 2006, there was talk about transitioning the firm from the original founders to a new leadership team. It's rare for an architecture firm to be named something other than for the founders, but it was named Tecton so that it could continue on after the founders were no longer with the company. After a 5 year process, the transition was complete and Ted became CEO in January 2012.
During the transition, Ted thought hard about their company culture. He held one-on-one meetings with every single person that worked there to hear what they thought about working there. He learned a lot, and he pushed leadership to be more open about what was going on within the company. He did a lot of research about what culture really meant - it's not a policy, but a style. It doesn't come from one person, it comes from everyone.
Tecton believes strongly in their employees. They've created a transparency within the organization so that their employees know where they stand and what the process looks like to move up in the company. The company has changed its culture to attract and retain new talent, to bring in new energy and to challenge the status quo. They have invested in new software applications, cloud based computing and 3D software.
Ted's advice for young professionals? "Find a company that aligns with you personally, and nothing will stop you. Company culture is important. Find a balance between your personal life and what you share. You own your personal network, but share contacts and share success."
Ted says his leadership is "Collaborative. I'm not even that inspiring, at least I don't think I am. I lead by example. I rely on the expertise of the people around me. I'm in architecture, but I'm not the best designer. My approach is team building, coaching and collaborating in order to get the most out of those around me."