Jonathan Moody: Where We’ve Been and Where We Are Going

Jonathan Moody was named Moody Nolan CEO on January 1 after working with the firm for eight years, the last three as president. Since then, Jonathan – along with Chairman Curt Moody – has guided the firm forward under a new structure designed to ensure a holistic approach to the firm’s national strategy. We recently asked Jonathan how things are going in his new role.

What pleases you about how 2019 turned out?

I’m pleased that we were so successful in building new relationships and working with people we hadn’t worked with before. We also took on several project types that we hadn’t done before. And then, one of the things we as a firm have always battled is the idea of transition. We put a lot of pieces together internally to make the transition successful, such as our new Executive Committee. Some of these things we had talked about for years, and I’m excited.

How is the new leadership structure working out?

It’s working out really well. In some ways we’re still learning, because it’s new to all of us. So sometimes that means refining what new roles mean internally and making sure those roles answer the realities in the marketplace. It’s taking some time for clients and partners to understand what the new structure means to them. But for me, it has strengthened our overall decision-making and working like a team instead of making individualized decisions about our corporate goals. It’s been really good in that regard. I suspect we’ll continue to evolve.

What are the biggest challenges for the industry right now?  

There are big questions about the future of architecture, meaning 10 to 20 years out. What does it mean to have an architect, why do you even need an architect and what are the advantages? What does a new generation of architects mean? Many in the profession right now are older than 60, so it’s a time of transition and not every firm has planned appropriately. We have to do more as an industry to embrace a new generation, and that means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. But part of what it means is helping young people understand the opportunities. For example, a degree in architecture opens doors beyond architecture. We as an industry need to be more intentional about how we say to these new workers that we want them in our industry, and right now that message is gray. We’re not doing enough to attract new blood to the profession and keep them. We are a profession that has relied on the way things have been done in the past, and that is no longer acceptable.

What makes you hopeful about 2020?

What makes me hopeful is that a lot of people have started paying attention to us that haven’t in the past. They are looking for new ways to partner with us. We seem well-positioned to make a big breakthrough in 2020. Things we’ve been talking about for a number of years – we’d like to do more of this, or more of that – we just really feel there are a lot of people who want to give us a chance to do that in 2020.

What will be Moody Nolan focus in the coming months?

We’re really focused on two things that are related: building new and more robust partnerships, and leading projects that in the past we might have played a more minor role in. We’re sometimes seen as being too big to do a small project. There’s a weird perception that we are not interested in certain projects. Our message is, don’t eliminate us without asking.

Can people expect any big changes in the way you do business?

No. If you call what my dad set out to do a dream, the dream is still the same, and we are still reaching to achieve the dream.