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Gensler Design Exchange

The Gensler Design Exchange creates a dialogue between design experts, creative trendsetters, and thought leaders to discuss how we shape the future of cities.

Apr 8, 2022

Moderator: Nadia Volchansky, LEED AP, NCIDQ

Strategy Lead





Senior Associate, Regional Consulting Practice Area Leader



Gensler is filled with innovative individuals who have diverse perspectives. This unique nature allows our people to approach projects with entrepreneurial spirits, and helps their clients go further by pushing the boundaries of what design can do.


This episode is the first in a series where we will highlight trailblazers at Gensler who have taken their strengths and talents and invested it in their work to become intrapreneurs. In this episode, Regional Consulting Practice Area Leader Cheryl Duvall joins series host Nadia Volchansky to share her background as an entrepreneur in the architecture and design industry.


01:30    Cheryl’s intro, background

03:00    Cheryl starts her first design firm at the age of 25; she examines the initial challenges and eventual success.

05:42    Cheryl’s company is acquired by a larger firm.

07:55    Cheryl speaks to her experience as a female entrepreneur in a male-dominated industry.


“When I was a 25-year-old woman designing a major law firm, there were times I felt disrespected. I saw it as an opportunity to prove myself. I knew if I was knowledgeable and not faking it, I would come across as confident. And because I believed in myself, others did too.” – Cheryl Duvall


11:20    The barrier to entry for women in business, then and now.

11:53    Cheryl embarks on starting her second design firm while attending graduate school; her entrepreneurial evolution

14:18    Cheryl arrives at Gensler in 2018.

16:33    Covid’s impact on Cheryl’s role at Gensler, the growth of the consulting practice


“As designers, we influence and build culture. Culture and innovation strategy services are really what’s next. The focus on organizational development and the softer, human-centric services is where our consulting practices are going to see growth.” – Cheryl Duvall


17:41    The innate and learned skills and behaviors Cheryl believes it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.

18:30    The advice Cheryl would give her younger self.

20:05    Cheryl’s definition of success in entrepreneurship.  

Tune in to hear the full conversation. As always, thanks for listening!