The Microdesk Career Journey

By Clarke Morrison, Strategic BIM Consultant

Explore the career path of one of Microdesk’s Strategic BIM Consultants, Clarke Morrison and see why so many love to call Microdesk home to building their career.

Clarke Morrison

As I approach my ninth year at Microdesk, I thought I’d reflect on the path that led me to this point in my career. One of the best things about the Architecture/Engineering/Construction (AEC) industry is that there are so many different career options. If you asked me even five years ago where I’d be today, I would not have come close to guessing the answer!

I wanted to be an architect since I was about eight years old. I drew floor plans of my room to experiment with different layouts every few months. My father and I designed the addition and renovations to their house when I was in high school. Though I ended up at a liberal arts college, I took all the architectural history and theory classes that were available, studied architecture and urban planning in Barcelona, took a summer architecture studio at RISD, and wrote my senior thesis on urban design/public space.

After a ski bum year in Vermont (best decision ever), I took a job with an A/E firm that needed a junior draftsperson. I’m extremely grateful for the experience that this job provided me. I learned about collaborating with multiple disciplines, took part in charettes, worked on all design phases of projects, and was given the opportunity to learn the latest 3D design technology. I discovered that I had an aptitude for this technology (at the time AutoCAD Architecture, but also SketchUp and eventually Revit), and following the departure of one of my mentors, I had the chance to become the CAD Manager for the Buildings Group. In retrospect, it was a wise decision, as it would give me some leadership experience and transferrable skills.

It wasn’t all fun and games throughout this early phase of my career. While I was able to learn new skills, do conceptual and schematic design (which I really enjoyed), and teach myself Revit, most of my time was spent working on the less exciting aspects of architecture: construction documentation, detailing, and shop drawings. I began to question my career choice. I felt trapped, because I didn’t have an architectural degree and I had a young family to support. I decided to enter a Master of Landscape Architecture program at the Boston Architectural College. My plan was to build up a landscape design group at my company, as it seemed like the missing piece to a multi-discipline firm.

It’s funny how things work out sometimes. The firm I worked for got bought out and people started leaving in droves. I started a job search in the summer of 2011, not too far removed from the crash of 2009, and I came across a contact of mine at Microdesk who had consulted for my previous company. After interviewing for a position as an architectural technology consultant, I was apprehensive about leaving the design world, or at least shifting to a different track within the AEC industry.  It turned out to be the best career decision I have ever made!

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I still remember the days of waking up wondering what I could do with my professional life. I suppose that’s a nice way of saying “I dreaded going to work.” I read “What Color is My Parachute” and spent a lot of time thinking about what I wanted to be when I grew up – this is at 29 years old with two children.  So, how did I get to the point where I am today, almost nine years in at a rapidly-growing technology consulting firm?

The thing I reference first when asked about my favorite part of the job is the variety. Since day one at Microdesk, I’ve been able to work on tons of different types of projects for all kinds of firms, on a weekly basis. The variety has kept me engaged and excited to be at work for the past eight years. From exploring new tools like energy analysis and virtual reality, to developing standards, teaching classes, modeling content and buildings, conducting technology assessments, writing proposals, mentoring younger colleagues – there’s no shortage of new experiences! I’ve built a client base of small, high-end residential firms, small-medium commercial design firms, multi-office/multi-discipline international firms, construction firms, and non-profit design organizations.

The consistent theme throughout all these efforts is building relationships through helping people. My current role is focused on business development, and that’s always been at least a small part of what I do. I love what today’s design technology can do and where it’s headed. It’s amazing how far it’s come since I started using AutoCAD 20 years ago!  My strength lies in creating and maintaining relationships, listening to people’s challenges and goals, and putting together a plan and a team to solve those challenges and achieve those goals.

While I no longer break out the trace paper and work though space planning exercises, I haven’t looked back or had second thoughts about where I am right now. It’s amazing working for a company that gives you the freedom to forge your own career path. Microdesk is a place that listens to your ideas and values your input, whether it’s on a topic like marketing or recruiting, professional development, or breaking into a new business market. It’s a great feeling to love your job, especially when it didn’t take 20+ years to get there!

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Microdesk is a global AECO industry consulting firm dedicated to assisting design, construction and operations teams with improving workflows and integrating BIM, VDC and EAM technologies. Using software from industry leaders such as Autodesk and IBM, combined with our vision and passion for sustainably meeting the demands of urbanization, our team of industry experts is redefining project deliver and asset management.   

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