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David Hacin Talks about Team Mentoring at Boston Design Week

Part of Boston’s second annual Design Week, David Hacin was invited to participate in a panel discussion on ‘Designing the Next Generation: The Give and Take of Mentoring’ at the Boston Design Center. The event was hosted by renowned singer and Grammy winner, Patti Austin along with Taniya Nayak, host of the HGTV series, House Hunters on Vacation and a featured designer on the Food Network’s Restaurant: Impossible. Joining David on the panel were Meichi Peng, Principal of Meichi Peng Studios, Andrew Goldstein, retired CEO of Thoughtforms, Cheryl Katz, Co-Founder of C & J Katz Studio, and Sean Clarke, General Manager of Clarke Distribution. The discussion focused on ways in which the various panelists approached mentoring a team of designers and staff under their guidance and what kind of observations they could pass along.

Opening with panel introductions, Taniya Nayak addressed David as “the leader of what we all think of as the lean, mean, design dream team at H+A.” Beginning his opening remarks, David responded, “I love being identified as the leader of a team, because that’s how we see ourselves at H+A…as a team.”

The first question asked of the panel touched on why mentoring was important, and how mentoring helped build a successful practice. Meichi Peng said that understanding her own strengths and weaknesses was the first key to good mentoring, explaining how it helped her to seek out a team that could contribute talent and skill where it was needed, creating an environment of shared knowledge and capabilities. Andrew Goldstein suggested that the most successful mentoring is mentoring about values like honesty in business, and in keeping your word with clients and collaborators. Cheryl Katz mentioned that she felt mentors have a responsibility to dig deeper to offer life lessons on family and quality of life in addition to design insights.

Reflecting on a recent H+A team retreat, David offered that, “Mentoring is not just about sharing, but also listening to what your team needs.” In response to Patti Austin’s analogy of mentoring in the music business, David noted that, “a design team leader is very much like an orchestra leader who may not have written the music, but has a unique talent in recognizing how people with their own special skills and talents can play beautifully together.”