[REPLAY] Eftalia and her meteoric ascendant career at SOM

Yesterday, December 9th, 2020, our CEO Pati Garcia connected with Eftalia Proios to join in for possibly our last Interview Series of the year. Their conversation ranged from her work as a Santander sponsored trainee with Estudi d’Arquitectura Toni Girones, to her experience of mentoring others in the USA, to her perspective on how to approach technology in the space, and how she worked her way up from a J1 Visa Participant to a Senior Architectural Designer at SOM.

In the beginning of the interview CEO Pati Garcia begins talking about Eftalia Proios’ cultural experience, and how she is half Spanish half Greek. They move on to cover the value that language and communicating through different means provides you when working in the architecture field. Pati highlights the value that Erasmus provides, and how her experience in Paris and learning French was a great cultural experience that helped her find guidance. Eftalia mentioned that once you start learning more than two languages they become very difficult to keep sharp. She loved her experience traveling around Europe and comparing Architecture from Japan versus Portugal.

Competitions outside of school helped her to put architecture into context and enriched the architect within her because she challenged herself and was part of the community in BarcelonaThe Santander Scholarship was a way to use summers to learn from incredible architects and consultants, and it helped her get construction experience at early age. Test and try to realize what you want to become. Because by doing the actions and learning the tasks, you subconsciously and consciously can see how active experience will guide you. Such challenges help you to be able to deal with hardships and not be so close minded. By being open to making mistakes and learning about new areas you aren’t yet good at, you are honoring yourself.

While in Undergraduate University, Eftalia wanted to do something different, she applied all over the world and was putting her name out there all over. Not just focused on USA. Was willing to go anywhere to challenge herself and get out of her box. When you look at her Portfolio it shows her story and how she pursues ideas and creates them, shows questions and answers, but also how she sees life and approaches society and the changes we need to make.

Pati asked her about how she approaches interviews or first impressions. Eftalia mentions that connections are more important than anything, make sure you are brief and what is being shown is relevant, and talk about who you are and make it a story! What are your passions? QandAs? The 2021 SOM Virtual Shadowship Program is a great opportunity to learn about what it takes!

Eftalia was able to finish her Undergraduate in Architecture in 2015 and a year later she finished her first Masters. Then she saw the value in becoming a BIM Manager after her first experience at SOM. She wanted to do a crash course in Revit cause she saw how prevalent its use was in the USA. By the time she was ready to go back to Washington DC to work with SOM, she had completed her second Masters at CICE Technical School in Madrid to be able to leverage her coding and technical skills with her artistic and creative skills. She mentioned that you:

Cannot master knowledge without mastering the tools

Going back to SOM DC for Eftalia was due to not just the name, but because of the people. They were patient and helped her to collaborate by including in all aspects of the projects. Her mentors were great teachers and made her feel like family. Mentorship role has been interesting to transition from younger professional to senior for Eftalia. Sometimes it is harder for higher ups to connect with newer architects at SOM, but that is changing over time.

With Mentoring, she views it as one where you:

Need to help show them that there is a path to be taken, and that the challenges are to be taken on, and not ignored

At this point, Eftalia wants to stay where she is right now, because she has the right balance of responsibilities and flexibility to try new ideas. SOM has many different departments: technical, design and management. Eftalia is part of design team, but SOM is trying to push more multi-disciplined work. If you feel that you are lacking experience in an area that is crucial, you can organize your thoughts and pass it on to superior so they understand why you want to experience other part of development at firm.

Find out more about her recommendations for how to learn new computer languages or how she mentors her colleagues or what are the some of the ways she challenges herself every day.

If you have any questions for her, please submit them below and we will respond ASAP! 👇👇👇👇


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