one firm, many voices // megan daniel
Megan Daniel’s quiet demeanor masks a totally unexpected personality trait. Despite her strength as a designer and project manager she is quite the absent-minded professor. Megan thrives on learning new things, lives for new challenges, loves variety, so much so that she changes her driving route daily, never sets her alarm clock for the same time and even if she loves a recipe, rarely makes it again. Variety is the spice of life, right?
While she keeps things fresh in her day to day, long standing rituals are a different story and what keep her grounded. There are certain travel destinations that she has gone back to many times and has even made cross country road trips more than once. Is there anyone who more truly lives the TBG value to Be Inquisitive? Her inquisitive nature has helped her become an invaluable team member in our Austin office. When asked how she continues to keep learning amidst the current challenges, Megan stresses the importance of listening and always asking questions of others who are passionate about their work. Pay attention, she suggests, never underestimate how much people love to talk about what they are into. Keep reading to learn more about Megan.
1. How did you find landscape architecture? How did you decide to pursue your current job/career?
It has always been easy for me to find things I am interested in. As a kid, I was constantly drawing, building things, and finding projects for myself. In high school, I loved ecology and anthropology and I spent most of my spare time in the art room or in woodshop. The challenge for me was finding a profession that somehow combined all my seemingly unrelated interests The first time I heard of landscape architecture, I knew it was a fit and I never looked back.
2. What is your job title and role? Describe the things you are responsible for day-to-day and big picture.
I work as both a project manager and landscape designer. My role changes with each team and project. Whether I am putting a schematic package together, coordinating with my design team, or sketching planting concepts, I find myself doing something different every day. What I enjoy the most is creating a cohesive deliverable that showcases my teammates’ unique strengths, so that the sum of everyone’s contributions is greater than the whole.
3. What do you love most about your work?
I love the constant variety. I thrive off the unique puzzle each project brings and the daily opportunities to learn and challenge myself. I also love the process of analyzing and understanding new spaces and anticipating how they might be most enjoyed by the user.
4. What is the biggest challenge to your role? Greatest challenge to the profession.
I think the biggest challenge to my role is keeping up with constant coordination both within my design team and externally with clients and other designers. Finding mental space to keep deliverables on track while diving into meaningful design can be a difficult balance. I think a big challenge and opportunity to the profession is to keep up with technology. The tools we have to aid in site analysis, design, and project coordination are becoming increasingly useful. We must learn to harness the tools to our advantage while keeping ourselves a vital part of the design process.
5. What was the first project you worked on at TBG?
Travis County Courthouse
6. Please list three goals that you currently have your sights on.
1. Become proficient in Spanish.
2. Master Revit.
3. Take my dog to a park I helped design (I don’t think she will truly appreciate it, but I will).
7. What accomplishments (in your career or life) have given you a sense of pride and satisfaction?
Between graduation and starting at TBG, I spent two months hiking the Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile trail that runs from the eastern border of Spain all the way to the west coast. Making it to the ocean on the final day, I felt a tremendous sense of pride that I had completed such a difficult journey. I worked hard to save money, convinced my best friend (who had never left the country) to join me, and challenged myself both physically and mentally. I formed new relationships with people from all over the world, made some of my best memories, and left with a newfound sense of self-reliance.
8. Describe your design philosophy in two lines
Understanding and empathy is the first step in any good design. Borrow nature’s blueprints.
9. How do you define success?
Success is making life better for as many people as possible.
10. What are your three biggest career and leadership strengths?
My biggest career strengths are my ability to:
– Absorb new information and learn quickly
– Ask the right questions
– Guide collaboration with intuition and empathy
11. What’s your favorite movie line?
How much you wanna make a bet I can throw a football over them mountains? – Uncle Rico via Napoleon Dynamite
12. You have $100 to burn, all your friends are busy, and you have the whole day to yourself, what do you do?
I would start by drinking a cappuccino on my balcony. Then I would take my dog to the dog park in the morning and watch her chase squirrels and get the zoomies. After that I would probably wander around downtown, stopping at Veracruz for some tacos, and make my way to Auditorium Shores to read or sleep in my hammock. Finally, I would go to Uchi and order food until I blew through the rest of my $100.
13. List the one song (only one) that you play at full volume whenever it comes on the radio
Gypsy – Fleetwood Mac
14. Describe what you were like at age 10.
Straight from my mom (I knew she would have a better answer than me): “Smart. Spunky. Silly. Athletic. Loved a good project. Resourceful. Barefooted. Competitive. Tiny but fierce. Inventive. Independent. Dog hugger. “
15. What would surprise people to know about you?
I love really long road trips. I have driven across the country and back twice and have been to dozens of National and State Parks along the way.
16. What was your worst job ever?
For two summers in high school, I worked on an organic farm for less than minimum wage. 8 hours of manual labor in the southern heat was tough, especially with a boss who loved antique farm tools, but I also kind of loved it and got lots of free, fresh food.
17. What are two things you know you should know how to do but don’t?
a. Play an instrument
b. Do social media
18. Who’s someone you look up to as a mentor?
My older brother, Eric- he is a constant reminder of what it looks like to be a great person. He is consistently kind and understanding and does not take himself too seriously.
19. What words describe you when you are at your best? (3-5 words) Less than your best? (3-5 words)
a. Best: intuitive, creative, adventurous
b. Worst: indecisive, restless, stubborn
20. What do you do when you’re up against an obstacle or barrier?
I take a step back. I go do something else to clear my mind- cook, go for a walk, clean- then I can tackle the problem with a clear head and fresh energy.
21. What are two personal habits that have served you well?
a. Going for a walk (almost) everyday
b. Sitting with my dog every morning while I drink my coffee.
22. How do you define happiness in your career and life?
In life- happiness is being around people you love. In career- Happiness is never running out of new things you are excited to learn.
23. Ask me about_____ (something you love to talk about)