Just as these individuals found success early in their careers, they also hope to spark the interest of future engineers, architects and construction professionals to follow similar paths. Most of our featured professionals cite an early fascination with math, science and problem-solving. Others credit values instilled since childhood by family members, teachers or other mentors. In all cases, experiences growing up helped shape their drive for achievement and professional success.
Community service and industry involvement were among the top criteria considered by the independent jury that selected this year's Top 20 Under 40. Whether through industry initiatives like the ACE Mentor Program or local community outreach organizations, those individuals who give back struck a chord with our judges.
Other criteria included leadership qualities within their given field, involvement in creating landmark regional projects and achievement of industry certifications. All candidates were required to be under age 40 by our publication date, Feb. 20.
This year's panel of judges included Katie Harris, marketing manager at RVi Planning + Landscape Architecture + Graphic Design, Austin, Texas; Christine Hollinden, principal of Hollinden, Houston; William Richardson, senior associate of Urban Design Group, Dallas; and Albert C. Petrasek Jr., vice president of HDR Engineering, Dallas.
Read on to find out more about the young professionals who are forging the future path for our industry in Texas and Louisiana and fostering the generation that will someday follow their example.
Launched successful architecture firm that's also a fun place to work
38, Partner, Principal Architect
5G Studio Collaborative
Creating a fun work environment, valuing people, mentoring aspiring young professionals and delivering solutions to clients form the foundations of Yen Ong's career. "We believe strongly in the value of collaboration and being able to leverage the intelligence of everybody in the firm," he says. Ong welcomes the suggestions of design team members, including the least experienced staff, finding that such collaboration creates solutions and improves the projects. "People should have fun while doing a 5G project," Ong says. "We create strong bonds with our employees." Seeking more control over projects, Ong partnered with peers to found 5G Studio in 2005. He continues to design projects as the firm has grown from a few small commissions to working with BOKA Powell of Dallas on the recently completed Omni Dallas Convention Center Hotel. Annual revenue has jumped to $7.5 million from less than $300,000, full-time staff has grown to 31 from four in the U.S. and the firm has added a new office in Vietnam. "We don't approach a design with preconceived notions," Ong adds. "The client's vision enables our work."