Abbie Clary, a director of our health practice, is featured in a new Q+A interview with VoyageChicago. The piece touches on her career path, her current role, challenges she’s faced and why she feels Chicago is a great place for designers. The full piece is available online with excerpts below:
So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
As a child, I loved to draw and color, and was always entering coloring contests at the grocery store. In sixth grade, my parents encouraged me to build on my drawing skills by enrolling in a mechanical drawing class. I pushed back a bit as I had heard from other students it was nearly impossible to earn above a “C” in the class, but my parents persisted that this would be a great opportunity for me. And I’m so glad they did — I ended up loving that class and earning an A. It was the first point in my life I really started connecting my passions to architecture.
Has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I’m very fortunate I’ve encountered a fairly smooth road along the way. The only struggles I’ve faced were based on opportunities that I had to fight for – to which I’m sure many other women can relate. Just because you do good work and deliver results doesn’t necessarily mean opportunities are going to be handed to you. That was definitely the case for me. I had to ask – and sometimes ask again – to get where I wanted to go in my career.
Ultimately, it’s been a successful path because I’ve worked with great people — I’ve always had an incredible work “family” that has supported me along the way. Nothing I’ve earned in my career has been mine alone – my success has been in large part due to the great people I’ve worked with.
Do you feel like our city is a good place for businesses like yours? If someone was just starting out, would you recommend them starting out here?
Yes, I absolutely, 100% think our city is perfect for what we do. Architecture in Chicago is world-renowned, the city is beautifully planned, and the availability of green space is amazing – as a designer, there is so much inspiration to draw from! Combine that with the fact some of the best design firms are located here means there are tons of opportunities for architects and designers. And specifically, from a healthcare perspective, there is a so much happening right now in Chicago.
What I love is that Chicago is a big city with a humble, mid-Western personality — the best of both worlds. Ultimately, it’s a great place to live, work, and build a career. I am a Midwesterner through and through – and couldn’t be prouder to call this city my lifelong home!