Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:21 pm
In the final stages of the dramatic and challenging Calatrava art museum addition project, Kahler Slater, architect of record on the ambitious structure, changed its leadership from the hands of David Kahler to a trio of principals serving equally as “3EOs.”
Any type of transition of leadership during a major project can be difficult, but transfer of power from a single individual to three different people would seem a staggering task.
According to the three — Jill Jarecki Morin, George Meyer and James Rasche — the transition took place when, according to the rules of the corporation, Slater sold his stock back to the company as he turned 65. Slater went on to start his own consulting business, DK Consulting.
“We actually have 10 realms of responsibility to share,” Rasch said. “These are the responsibilities of a traditional CEO. Then we have special areas of emphasis. Mine are vision for the firm, purpose and direction, the people — the whole human resources thing and continuous learning and organization — and creativity.”
“I am the non-architect of the group,” Jarecki Morin said. “My background is in journalism. I concentrate on marketing and relationships, brand identity and strategy.”
“I handle finances and risk — and make sure the people in the company are having fun,” Meyer said.
The three said a chemistry that has developed over years of working together and — the fact that three heads are better than one — have made the transition a natural one.
“A lot of our colleagues said that when they became CEOs, they found themselves inundated with daily responsibilities,” Jarecki Morin said. “We want to make sure we can continue to work with our clients and keep our fingers on the pulse of the industry — because that makes us better as an organization.”
The three claim that their joint leadership actually results in accelerated decision-making. They have regular “same page” meetings — and keep office hours so it is always possible for staff members to reach at least one of them for a decision.
Jarecki Morin said that the concept of 3EOs is not that different in principal than what many companies do already.
“Business World magazine recently challenged the notion of a single CEO,” Jarecki Morin said. “Can one person bring all the attributes necessary to be a CEO? Probably not. In many companies, you have a CEO and a COO. The CEO might be higher on the organizational chart, but they really work on the same level.”
Calatrava opening doors
Kahler Slater got involved with the Calatrava art museum addition as architect of record early on — without a competitive selection process — in large part due to Kahler’s longstanding involvement with the Milwaukee Art Museum board. When Kahler stepped down in September, the Calatrava addition was already in the final stages of construction. And now it appears to the 3EOs that the project could launch the firm to the next level.
“This is a piece of world class architecture, and it was a pleasure to be a part of a project that the community embraced,” Rasch said.
“Calatrava has asked us to do all of his work in North America,” Meyer said.
One project Calatrava has designed and Kahler Slater has interviewed for is the Oakland cathedral — a replacement for the Roman Catholic cathedral felled by the great earthquake of 1989.
November 23, 2001 Small Business Times, Milwaukee