With nearly 40 years in the business, architect and SHP partner, principal and former executive vice president, Tom Fernandez, has pretty much seen it all. He offers his advice to up-and-comers.

Master the basics. “Well-designed buildings may be stylistically very different, but they all have one thing in common: mastery of the fundamentals. Proportion, scale, the play of light and shadow and color… Practice the fundamentals and use them to create beautiful things.”

Believe in signs. “When I first interviewed at SHP, the firm was located on the 21st floor of a high-rise in downtown Cincinnati. I went in to meet everybody, walked into the conference room, and realized the office looked down onto Broadway Commons, the site of an urban baseball park I was lobbying the city to consider. My personal and professional interests meshed in that moment, and it felt like it was meant to be.”

Make friends, not foes. “A side benefit of our careers is the people we meet. So many of my lifelong personal friendships have begun by collaborating with people whose path I crossed in my professional life.”

Get involved. “Participation in professional associations and community volunteerism both offer great exposure to people, companies and organizations—who’s doing what, what’s coming up, where things are headed—that can be invaluable down the line.”

Take the long view. “The professional decisions you make, the risks you take—they have a really big influence on your professional life, of course, but also the personal life you end up with. So, take the long view, stay true to yourself, check your ego at the door, and don’t compete just for the sake of winning. Remember that the great thing about competition isn’t the win; it’s the growth, learning, improvement and fulfillment that comes from it.”