BSA’s Tim Spence on His New Leadership Role

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January 19, 2024

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Discovery, Healing, Learning

For nearly 50 years, BSA has sought to create inspired solutions that improve lives. We specialize in the markets of healing, learning, and discovery, meaningfully impacting the communities of our projects. Changing lives happens through solving real problems that healthcare and higher education facilities face, and we seek to partner with clients whose vision aligns with that quest.

On May 1, 2023, Tim Spence was named the firm’s CEO. In his nearly 10-year career at BSA, Tim has served the firm in various roles as National Healing Practice Director and helped co-launch the Raleigh, North Carolina studio on his arrival at BSA in 2015. 

In our conversation, Tim shares insight on vision casting, how to bring multiple disciplines together, leveraging resources across multiple locations, and what BSA looks for in future employee-owners. 

What parts of BSA’s history impact you the most as a leader?

From day one, BSA was envisioned as an expertise-based practice with an interdisciplinary approach. Both concepts are part of our DNA and benefit our healing, learning, and discovery clients, who count on our critical knowledge as design professionals to further their organization’s missions. 

What does “Design That Inspires What’s Next” mean to you?

We believe inspired solutions have the transformational power of improving lives, and we are driven to create spaces that shape the future…or what’s next in healing, learning, and discovery. Our designs have been groundbreaking for our clients and their respective industries. One example is the design of the first acuity adaptable room and unit for Methodist (now IU Health) in 1999. This design spread to healthcare systems throughout the United States and has found renewed relevance in the Covid era.  

How do you leverage firm resources across six studios to meet client and project needs?

We provide local leadership and national expertise to our clients. Our local leaders are experts in their typologies and are firmly rooted in the communities where they work. They often use the services of our clients in their private lives and, therefore, are fully vested in their success. Our national experts working with clients across the United States can provide guidance shaped by understanding the latest trends. We augment the leadership and expertise with resources that sit in any office. 

How can leaders help bring multiple discipline areas together to build better design teams?

The principal in charge quarterbacks the team to clearly define the problem, which includes understanding the opportunities and constraints. Ideally, the problem definition occurs in or prior to the pursuit stage. Once the problem is understood, the principal assembles the appropriate experts to solve the problem and creates an empowering and collaborative culture that fosters innovative ideas. Functional teams are built on a foundation of trust, commitment, and accountability, and this foundation creates the appropriate environment for inspiring solutions.

BSA is an employee-owned firm; what type of candidates do you and the hiring managers look for in potential partners?

We envision being “The Place to Work” because of our incredible culture. Our values define our culture, forming deeply held beliefs that inform our thoughts and guide our actions. The best candidates reflect these values:

  • Partners – We help our clients achieve their dreams
  • Purposeful – We exist to have a profound impact 
  • Learners – We challenge our minds to continuous learning
  • Owners – We treat the company like our name is on the door
  • Ideal Team Players – We are humble, hungry, and smart

What are some new things BSA is working on or with that excite you about the future of the industry?

BSA’s mission is to create inspired solutions, and we have always been interested in proving how we improve lives in healing, learning, and discovery environments. We have been collecting building data and performance data for a few years. One of the opportunities with AI is to move our analytics from diagnostic to predictive by marrying building and performance data to provide insight on how to increase our client’s return on investment. 

How do you cast a vision to BSA’s employee-owners that blends teamwork with customer service, expertise, and problem-solving?

We use the EOS framework to harness the human energy in BSA. The VTO (vision traction organizer) is a simple tool that answers the eight essential questions to an organization’s vision and tracks the answers in one location. Yearly, we provide an all-staff state-of-the-company address that lays out the direction for the year, and we follow that with quarterly updates. The VTO is posted on our intranet, BSAToday, so our employee-owners can reference it at any time.  

What new skill have you recently learned unrelated to work that you’ve enjoyed?

I have enjoyed learning about real estate investment over the past year and am also spending more time golfing with my son-in-law.