Designing Your Future: Multigenerational Mentorship

The design industry is rapidly evolving with new technology, overall speed of practice, and the challenges adapting to hybrid work. As designers, we embrace continuous learning and growth at all stages of our careers to advance and navigate change. The journey is difficult alone, so strong professional mentoring relationships become critical. Mentors are key in a thriving multigenerational workplace to nurture emerging talent, provide professional development opportunities, and share best practices for success. A good mentor is a trusted resource and advocate, invested in a mentee's growth and professional development. The best mentoring relationships are mutually beneficial and create empathy across generations. Success is achieved through open, honest two-way conversations which strive to understand unique experiences and challenges. Fostering a great mentoring culture will inspire others to become mentors and engage the next generation of design talent. Join this roundtable discussion between two mentor/mentee pairs from leading Chicago design firms sharing how mentoring relationships have supported and help guide their career paths.

Deborah Nemeth, IIDA, RID, LEED AP BD+C

Principal, Interior Design Leader


Deborah Nemeth is a Principal and the Interior Design Leader at SmithGroup in Chicago. She is passionate about creating environments that are aesthetically pleasing, strategic, and purposeful. She is a versatile designer, team leader and business developer. Deborah has designed over one million square feet of corporate office and commercial building space in the last decade with a portfolio of clients including workplace, higher education, science and technology, and health care organizations. Deborah provides her clients with design solutions tailored to their unique culture and business goals. She is committed to the advancement of the Interior Design profession and currently serves as the President of the Illinois Chapter of the International Interior Design Association (IIDA).

Christine Dumich, IIDA, NCIDQ

Senior Associate, Design Director, Practice Leader -Financial Service Firms


Christine has proven herself to be an integral part of every team, partnering with clients around the globe to create transformative work places at every scale.As a Design Director, Christine creates meaningful experiences that are tailored to her client's unique challenges and core values. Involoved in all phases of a project from visioning and conceptual design through furniture and project completion, she ensures a clients goals are always a priority. With an architectural background, she has a unique ability to tackle multifaceted challenges via multidisciplinary methods of design; merging vision with programmatic needs. Her focus is for spaces that go beyond what the client needs today - spaces that transform a company and are a catalyst for where they what to go and supports their business and culture.

Francia Flores, AIA, NOMA

Associate, Senior Technical & Interior Designer, Regional DEI Leader


Community is my love language. It has defined my personal and professional life. I thrive on collaboration and have fun creating human experiences. I work as a technical and interior designer on projects ranging from corporate interiors to hotels to critical facilities. I’m also a regional Co-Leader for DEI, and outside of work, I have served as a mentor for ACE, an Advisory Committee Board Member for the Greater Chicago Food Depository, and I founded A Hand for Honduras to provide baskets of basic necessities to those in need. I am an advocate in mentorship and could not be where I am today without the amazing mentors I have met through my career all these years.

Matt Dumich, FAIA

Principal, Workplace Studio Leader


Matt Dumich, FAIA is a Principal at SmithGroup in Chicago, Illinois. His professional experience includes commercial buildings, interiors, mixed-use developments and master plans. A dynamic leader and consensus builder, he is known for his collaborative design approach and ability to execute complex, high performance projects, totaling over 10,000,000 SF constructed worldwide.

Matt is a respected leader committed to serving the profession by heightening the visibility of architects, communicating the value of design, and connecting the architectural community. He has held numerous local, regional and national leadership positions with the American Institute of Architects, most recently serving as the 2017 AIA Chicago Board President. Matt is co-founder of BRIDGE, a leadership program pairing young architects with FAIA mentors to discuss career advancement and the future of the profession. Since its inception in 2009, Bridge has formed lasting multi-generational mentoring relationships and provided leadership development for more than 300 emerging architects. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Chicago Central Area Committee and Lambda Alpha International Chicago Region.

Matt was elevated to the AIA College of Fellows in 2017. Additional honors for his leadership and service include 2015 Crain's Chicago Business 40 Under 40, 2013 AIA National Young Architects Award, 2012 AIA Chicago Dubin Family Young Architect Award and 2011 Building Design + Construction 40 Under 40 award.

This content will not be available until 06/10/2024 at 8:00 AM (EDT)