one firm, many voices // xin yang
Many women in their 30s and 40s today grew up with marriage as the end goal. They were advised to settle down and told everything else would fall into place. Until fairly recently traditional markers in many cultures (including much of the U.S.) measured a women by her role as a wife. The progress and momentum we see today is worth celebrating, as more and more women forge new paths and redefine success.
Today we celebrate Xin Yang, who decided at an early age never to settle for the goals outlined by others. Throughout her life, Xin has proactively sought out ways to learn, grow and broaden her perspective. She reaches farther, persists in the face of obstacles, and draws on talent and passion to drive her toward excellence every time. Keep reading for more on Xin Yang!
1. How did you find landscape architecture? How did you decide to pursue your current job/career?
I came to the US to study Landscape Architecture in 2009. Before I decided to study abroad, I had never heard of landscape architecture and originally wanted to apply for architecture school. One day I came across an online forum, there was a person taking about landscape architecture. She said if you like nature and architecture, art and science, landscape architecture is the best major for you. I was sold!
2. What is your job title and role? Describe the things you are responsible for day-to-day and big picture.
I am a senior associate and my day-to day job is project management. This entails planning the project, working with the team and clients and coordination with consultants to make sure the project gets delivered in a timely manner at the highest quality.
3. What do you love most about your work?
I love that it is creative and actually produces something physical in the real world. I love landscape architecture and think we are the bridge of the natural and man-made worlds, and things we do have an impact/influence on the natural world, socially, economically, and of course, environmentally.
4. What is the biggest challenge to your role? Greatest challenge to the profession.
One of the biggest challenges is capacity to continue to grow in depth. We are all very busy right now, trying to finish work task by task, deadline by deadline, in a fast pace. The bigger challenge is to find time to continue to study, slowly take things in, deepen and widen our knowledge on our profession, not to mention understanding other disciplines which have strong associations with landscape architecture; fields such as architecture, sustainability, and how our design work can have social impact etc…
5. What was the first project you worked on at TBG?
The first project I worked on is a master planned community called Viridian and I am still working on it today! I gradually changed my role from production to designer, then project manager. I have learned so much on this project and continue to learn.
6. Please list three goals that you currently have your sights on.
1. Communication skills – communication is an art, very hard to master, especially for me using English as a second language.
2. Continue to strengthen project management skills to work more efficiently.
3. Time management or so called “work life balance” – how to have 25 hours in a day, lol! We all need more time and have no time for the things we want to do. I am going to find time to learn a new skill this year.
7. What accomplishments (in your career or life) have given you a sense of pride and satisfaction?
When the client is pleased with the work we do and appreciates our work and effort and continues to bring more projects to us because they trust us then a relationship is built.
8. How do you define success?
Success is feeling content, is I am doing the job I am passionate about, and I am learning and growing everyday with right amount of pressure and challenges to keep me exited but not burning out.
9. How would you like to see your career evolve in the next 1, 3, and 5 years?
For the next year, I want to be more productive and maintain work-life balance during this time of working remotely.
For the next 3 to 5 years, I can see myself becoming a resource for project management, besides landscape architecture, I am passionate about leadership and mentorship and would like to do more things related to those.
10. What are your three biggest career and leadership strengths?
Ha! I just recently finished a Clifton strength finder assessment, and my top 3 strengths are:
– Activator: I can make things happen by turning thoughts into actions; I want to do things now, rather than simply talk about them.
– Command: Presence; I can take control of a situation and make decisions.
– Responsibility: I take psychological ownership of what I say I will do; I am committed to stable values.
11. What should they teach in school, but don’t?
Schools teach mostly technical skills, hard skills. To be successful in this profession, I find it is important to have good soft skills, such as planning, leadership and communication skills.
12. List the one song (only one) that you play at full volume whenever it comes on the radio.
Frankie Vallie “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” – I have a good memory with friends singing this song very loudly.
13. Describe what you were like at age 10.
I was feisty, always playing with the boys, and thought I wanted to be a badass assassin when I grew up.
14. What was your worst job ever?
A volunteer for door-to-door surveys. I had thin skin at that time and found it very difficult to ask strangers questions.
15. What makes you say, “What was I thinking?” when you look back on your life?
When I was in my 20s, I was superficial, less confident, and living off the values society gave me as an Asian woman. Now I am enjoying my 30s with a much more free spirit.
16. Who’s someone you look up to as a mentor?
There is not a specific person I look up to as a mentor, but I get inspired by working with different people and reading books. Each of them has their unique spark and virtues that inspire me to be a better person.
17. What motivates and inspires you?
Any form of art, the spark and energy from people and beautiful things.
18. What do you do when you’re up against an obstacle or barrier?
I usually act quickly and quite persistently to solve an obstacle. I will not move or give in until I solve the issue, but obstacles and barriers take an emotional toll. I am learning to look at them from a different perspective and disassociate negative feelings from the obstacle.
19. What are two personal habits that have served you well?
I like to read and travel. These habits expand my horizons in different ways, giving me strength and courage and new perspectives to appreciate things.
20. How do you define happiness in your career and life?
I am using a quote from Dr. Hans Selye to answer this question: “a long, healthy, and happy life is the result of making contributions, of having meaningful projects that are personally exciting and contribute to and bless the lives of others.” I am glad that I am living in it now.
21. Ask me about_____ (something you love to talk about)
Cats!!! I am obsessed with my cats. I think it is such a magical experience to build a connection with an animal. Or Interior design, I am currently learning to do residential interior design. My favorite interior designer is Axel Vervoordt and I just finished a book about his story and reflection on his journey to become a renowned designer. Last thing, ask me about feminist books! I have been a member of a book club since 2017.