Cherish is the Lead Design Manager for LinkedIn and oversees sites that include New York, Chicago, Detroit, Toronto and São Paulo. She partners with the Senior Project Manager and Operations leads to choose the design and construction partners, build design briefs to solve for business requirements, and represent LinkedIn and Workplace at all meetings to guide projects toward design excellence. She signs offs on all finishes and environmental graphics, reviews mockups and tests furniture for approval.
“Cherish is our jewel in New York! She completely believes in the work that we’re doing to transform the world of workplace. Cherish thoughtfully approaches each project with passion, dedication and humor. She is goal oriented and always striving to do things better! She’s also so incredibly stylish, and I’ve never been with her on the streets where she doesn’t get asked about her fashion curation. We’re so lucky to have this gem! – Lisa Britz, Director of Workplace Design at LinkedIn
What is one thing that no one knows about you?
“When I eat french fries I don’t eat the end that I’m holding, which is usually the sharper end of the fry. I’ve tossed the ends since I was two years old.”
How did you get into the Facilities/Workplace field?
“I have my Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Architecture but found my way into workplace design after spending my first two professional years practicing environmental graphic design at an architecture firm before leaving to find an organization where I could grow, learn, travel and make an impact. That organization was LinkedIn’s Workplace Design + Build team. I started off designing team signage and quickly began consulting on our global projects, truly benefiting from being in the right place at the right time. Eventually I asked to grow out of the graphics niche and into a Design Manager role, which was created soon after for my colleague and me. Now I lead workplace design in New York, Chicago, Detroit, Toronto and São Paulo.”
Tell us about a favorite project highlight.
“My first design-lead project was in Detroit and opened this past April. It was the first new site in a new city that LinkedIn had built in the Americas in 10 years. The project won an AIA Interiors award and was published in over a dozen articles. However, the best part of that experience was the 10 days prior to its opening. Our team was boots on the ground in Detroit, a city we all grew to love, and there was a palpable sense of camaraderie among us that reminded me how grateful I am to work with great colleagues who are all willing to dedicate themselves to our mission: creating phenomenal workplaces.”
What is your greatest success story?
“I took a leap of faith the summer of 2015 that rerouted my entire life and finally set me on a path that would expose my greater potential. In an effort to escape the monotony and limited growth opportunities I had at my first firm, I decided to quit my job, terminate my lease, sell 70 percent of my belongings and buy a one-way ticket from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Orange County, California. I slept on a college friend’s couch for a month, applied to more than 100 jobs on LinkedIn and interviewed for 13 positions before I received an email from a recruiter looking to fill a position at LinkedIn in Sunnyvale, California. On my last credit card, I booked a flight to the Bay Area before I even had an in-person interview request, told them I was nearby if they wanted to meet me (they did), and they agreed to hold an informal panel interview. The next day I landed in L.A. and landed the job. Fast forward 4 ½ years and that leap of faith is the single greatest free fall I’ve ever gifted myself.”
Tell us about a challenge or obstacle that you face in the Real Estate/Facilities world.
“Architecture is far more complex than walls, floors, doors and ceilings. At LinkedIn we design and build for experience, so our spaces are more than pretty pictures, they are functional hosts of employees able to do their most productive work in an environment that helps them thrive within our culture. My greatest challenge is reviewing every minute detail with from an experience perspective, while keeping cost, sustainability, lead times, operational impact, and a holistic look and feel in mind. It’s the ultimate Tetris, but it’s the challenge and the desire to elevate our workplace design that continues to stimulate me.”
What learning experience would you pass onto future FMs?
“Develop strong partnerships with your colleagues and vendors. At the end of every project I’m always humbled by the realization of how many people were required to execute the project successfully. Relationships matter, and I advise any design or project manager on the client side to be aware of how they treat others. What is true is that I cannot possibly do my job well without the handpicked vendors and individuals we invite to join our project team. Once a project kicks off, we are typically buckled in for a bumpy ride that will last 1 to 3 years or longer, so it’s important to clearly communicate and respect input from everyone. I’m certainly still learning how to nurture long-term relationships, but like any relationship, what you put in is what you’ll get out. When you value others, they will bring value to you.”
Interviewed by Sonya Verny of IA Interior Architects, IFMA NYC Secretary