Friday, February 15th, 2019

Up & Comer Deepika Padam Talks Business


Many architects have a blind spot when it comes to business. They want to design, to draft, to tinker in a studio. Once in the field, they soon realize if they hope to rise up the ranks or open their own firm, they have to develop leadership skills and a sense of business. Deepika Padam is the exception. A talented designer and effective leader, she has taken on tremendous responsibilities in her early career and is poised to take her skills globally.

Raised in India, Padam was put on an early track toward medical school. While her grades earned her a position into dental school, she decided to hold off and wait for the next year of testing to pursue education toward an M.D. While waiting to take the entrance exam again the following year, she attended architecture school to avoid having a gap on her resume. Padam’s sister was already in architecture school and she had enjoyed helping her with drawings. Fate guided her well, and Padam soon realized her calling was also architecture.

Padam came to the United States for a Masters degree of architecture from University of Michigan. She says, “I chose the US because it was a progressive country. India has a deep respect to tradition and history, but as architects we don’t have a lot of design freedom.” She wanted to design modern structures and express her creativity with innovative, open-minded clients. She also mentions choosing the US for schooling because the diverse background of the population indicated the climate would be more welcoming to her as a foreigner. Never having lived in snow, she chose Michigan to have a new experience and to attend a top ranked program.

Upon graduation, Padam was hired as a designer for Las Vegas firm Perlman Architects. Knowing she had a strong interest in sustainability, Padam earned her LEED certification out of the gates. After two years, she moved to another Las Vegas Firm, Tate Snyder Kimsey and worked as an architect and sustainability director. During the next three years, she became registered and received NCARB certification. Passionate about green building Padam, in her current role, is responsible for LEED Certification of multiple projects, which includes civic, educational, public, commercial, and mixed-use facilities. 

While not a fan of Las Vegas, Padam appreciated her time in Sin City, saying “ I grew tremendous amounts professionally and found many opportunities to participate.” Deepika was awarded the AIA Nevada Associate Award in 2007 and the AIA Nevada Young Architect Award in 2008. Founder and past chair for AIA Las Vegas Emerging Professionals/Young Architects Forum, Padam has served as the USGBC Nevada President in 2009 and the AIA Las Vegas President in 2010.

Padam strongly encourages all up and coming architects to volunteer. She says, “Taking a leadership role breaks you of any hesitation to speak up. You learn to voice your opinion and to manage teams.” In addition to her leadership roles, Padam also taught LEED accreditation classes to community members through UNLV and the National Guard as a way to deepen her firm’s relationship with client groups. She adds, “They didn’t pay, but it built valuable loyalty, which often means they return to you for future work opportunities.”

Padam is currently the communications adviser with National Young Architects Forum (YAF) and a project manager with Heller Manus in San Francisco. She came on board to lead the firm’s new business development efforts in India. She also oversees the firm’s sustainability efforts.

Padam acknowledges how her upbringing in India affects her approach to architecture. She explains, “India feels like a different time period, as they operate about 20 years behind the United States.” She goes onto to say the lack of natural resources and significant population also affect how things are built, how design is facilitated and the approach of teamwork. Padam adds, “India doesn’t have a choice around practicing sustainability – architecture and design must to be both energy and cost efficient, wherever possible.” Padam says her exposure to Indian architecture and culture also cultivated her passion for green building. “Younger folks don’t realize that environmentalism used to be expected. Thankfully LEED has resurfaced and the world now sees we are in a dire situation environmentally, so we have to pay attention and return to that approach.”

After working in firms of various sizes and configurations, Padam is ready to shift gears and get to work bringing in business abroad. She says, “In order to grow in this profession, you have to be involved in business development on some level. That is typically how you will become management.” To that end, she has joined the local chamber of commerce and has begun networking with local architects in India to partner on projects. In pursuit of new business, she also joined the real estate development association in India. Picking up the phone and contacting these firms as well as potential clients directly, Padam has received a surprisingly warm reception. It’s no doubt due, in large part, to her direct, prepared approach.

She can be reached at

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