With sense of humor and acute remarks, Carole Wedge shared her unique entry into the architecture world. Over the past decade, she has led Shepley Bulfinch’s transformation and growth with an emphasis on the creation of an open culture, and frank and committed work environment. As an architect, she has focused on the convergence of learning, teaching, and research environments, with a long-standing commitment to sustainable design. A leader and mentor, Carole is committed to making the architectural profession relevant to future generations. She is an advocate for diversity in the profession, and is active in Equity By Design.
Q: How did you become a president at Shepley Bulfinch?
A: When I joined Shepley Bulfinch, there was only one woman principal, and I thought that was a good sign because many firms had none. I don’t know if I decided I wanted to be a principal then, but I wanted to work somewhere that was diverse… I think all professions have struggled with unconscious bias in succession planning. It is easy and comfortable for leaders to promote someone like themselves to take over their firm. It takes more insightful people to imagine new kinds of leadership and focus on abilities and performance, not personal similarities. In 2004, I was asked if I would be President. For the last 13 years, my design project has been Shepley Bulfinch, as much as staying close to clients and projects.
Q: What motivated you when you were young?
A: I always loved projects and creating things, so design was an inspiration for me from the beginning. The family legend I grew up with was that both my grandmothers raised their families as single parents. Their husbands died in their 20s, and they each raised eight children. The thinking in our family was that of course women can do that—work and raise children! I have reflected on these family stories, and there is something in that history that sticks with you about what is possible.