YLG Spotlight

Christine Obnial
Production Staff/Adjunct Faculty – Architectural Technology
Architects Orange/Orange Coast College
Women’s Leadership Initiative Council, Vice Chair of Outreach
UrbanPlan Program Instructor

YLG Spotlight

How did you find your way into the industry?

My dad is the reason I got into the industry. He used to take me to his office after school when I was a kid and it was seeing that he got to draw and color as a job, which was something I loved to do, that made me want to choose Architecture.

What advice would you give to an emerging young leader just starting their professional career?

 In the words of Austin Kleon, learn the art of the remix. There are lots of people who have done fragments of what you have done or want to do, whom you can learn from. The key is in the synthesis of those influences plus your own realm of expertise that will make your approach solely your own to whatever it is that you do.

What traits do you think define a successful leader?

 A successful leader in my mind is about how well you take what you’re good at and use it to make the people around you better. It takes a perpetual learner’s posture to realize that in any stage of your career; it’s an exchange to learn or teach.

 What is your current job and what types of projects are you working on now?

 I have recently transitioned from a role in design to construction documents. As of recent, I’ve taken an interest in the due diligence stage of projects—understanding jurisdictional approval processes, timelines, and building code necessary to successfully execute our projects on schedule.

I also teach the UrbanPlan curriculum at Orange Coast College as an adjunct faculty member. This program kicked off its first semester just this past fall. It’s exciting to learn the development process and quickly turn that into a feasible learning module for Architecture students in a prime transition in their education. This presents development as a possible career option before they commit to a 5-year architectural program, if it is the right choice for them.

What do you find most challenging about your profession on a day-to-day basis?

 Most challenging about my profession on the day-to-day is the sway of workload having transitioned into working motherhood. The nature of deadlines in our profession aren’t sensitive to the amount of workload that exists once you leave the office, upwards of an additional 100+ hours a month. But as a parent, it also makes you the master of multi-tasking!

What are you looking for in terms of career development – OR In what areas would you like to professionally develop further?

 The exchange of learning and teaching. In terms of career development, I’m looking to continue to learn the land development process through YLG classes like the Entitlement Process held in November. And in the 5-10 year season of my career, I’m also looking to teach through avenues of involvement like the Women’s Leadership Initiative and AIA’s Women in Architecture Committee. I’d also like to expand my class at OCC to a full 16-week class taking my students into understanding entitlements and anchoring design with a basic understanding of how to utilize governing codes and see more of my colleagues participate in creating a more dynamic architectural professional.

Describe a situation that was a great learning experience.

 One situation that was a great learning experience for me was ramping up the UrbanPlan curriculum to teach this fall. The training was only 3 weeks prior to the start of my semester, but I knew that it had closely paralleled my existing curriculum that I could fold the learning objectives easily. The lesson learned is refining the art of connecting dots quickly. By continually setting growth goals for yourself, you can quickly identify practical ways to accomplish them if you’re always on the look out for ways to gain experience towards those goals. In this case, my goal was creating more development literate designers as well as learning the process myself. Teaching inherently accomplishes those two things.

How do you deal with stress at work?

As a new mom (8 months postpartum), it is difficult to find time for yourself but I’ve found that cooking well and being active helps me deal with stress as well as accomplishes the task of taking care of my health. These things easily fall by the wayside if you let them but you can’t do what you do if you aren’t healthy enough to do it, so it’s a bit of a Catch-22. Running enables me to set whatever I’m working on to the peripheral of my brain to rumination. It allows me the time to step away and come back with fresh eyes for whatever I’m working on. My daughter and I have run 4 5k’s together (her in the stroller, obviously!) since she was born, with training once a week on weekends. It’s just a matter of getting outside when you can!