#56 A Career of Joy, Fearlessness, and Serendipity with Sylvia Kwan, FAIA


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Sylvia Kwan, FAIA is a principal based out of DLR Group’s San Francisco office. She has practiced in San Francisco for more than 40 years and her past and present designs continue to impact the built environment in the Bay Area. Sylvia founded Kwan Henmi Architecture in 1980, and in 2017 Kwan Henmi joined DLR Group, where Sylvia continues to focus on the transportation and higher education sectors. She takes great pride in building relationships with clients and exceeding their expectations.

Sylvia is an AIA Fellow, and has served on AIA boards at both national and local chapter levels. She has received numerous awards and personal recognitions for her design and business achievements, including the San Francisco Business Times’ 75 Most Influential Women in Business.

In this episode we talk about:

  • Sylvia’s experience of starting her own firm in her 20’s, and what she attributes to her success
  • On relinquishing control as the size of your firm grows
  • Going into full rainmaker mode, and how Sylvia honed her business development skills over the years
  • Business development tips, and advice for public speaking
  • On building relationships with decision makers and developing your reputation
  • Sylvia’s experience of running her practice while raising two sons
  • Kwan Henmi’s merger with DLR Group
  • Sylvia’s goals for this next phase of her career after being in the profession for 40+ years
  • Her career highlight
  • How Sylvia ended up being cast on Survivor Fiji!

Special thanks to Drew Henmi for this episode’s intro song. Check out the full version of the song here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X4K7uFzRNNk

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