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Architect, Storyteller Honored with First-Ever Impact Award

September 23, 2019      

Tags: Awards

RS&H logo with rays on light blue background.

He started as a CAD technician. Now, he advises on complex landscape architecture projects and travels across the country teaching associates the art of storytelling.

“I mean, that’s pretty remarkable,” said Ron Sill, a senior communications consultant and winner of the inaugural Impact Award. “That’s really emblematic of what you get at RS&H: unfettered opportunity.”

RS&H associate wearing a bow tie.

Ron has made a career of seizing those opportunities. 

Travels Ignite Passion for Architecture

Ron’s first career opportunity came in the form of the United States military. After graduating from high school, he joined the Navy, eager to leave his small New York farm town to travel the world.

It was during his time abroad working in nuclear propulsion that he discovered his passion for architecture.

“Right before I left the Navy, I did a tour of the Mediterranean,” said Ron. “It opened my eyes to an alternative to merely technical design.”

Inspired by his travels, Ron decided to study landscape architecture at Pennsylvania State University.

Though he chose the landscape architecture major for a practical reason – it was the only four-year architecture program at the university – he soon fell in love with the specialty for its democratizing influence.

“It’s kind of the American ideal,” said Ron. “It’s the public space, where architects can influence the entire community.”

A Series of Fortunate Events

Opportunity called again a couple of years after graduation.

Unsatisfied working outside of the architecture industry, Ron sought the advice of one of his professors, who happened to know of a company whose then-CEO – Leerie T. Jenkins, Jr. – was a landscape architect.

Turns out, the company, RS&H, had a job opening in its Tampa office.

“I got the job at RS&H because I had learned CAD software at my previous job,” said Ron. “I got the job where I learned CAD software because of my work in the university’s geography department, which came about because of the connections I made in my first university job in the campus computer lab.

“Opportunities lead to more opportunities.”

The Science of Storytelling

Over the next decade, Ron moved up within the organization, gaining his architectural license and working on numerous projects in the state and beyond. In 2013, Ron took on a new opportunity.

“Presentations are the business of landscape architecture,” said Ron. “So, when we decided we needed some kind of training for associates and couldn’t find what we were looking for externally, I volunteered.”

An avid reader in his free time, Ron pored over books, studies and other materials to supplement his professional experience.

“I thought it was all about having better pictures when I started,” said Ron, with a laugh. “I was wrong.”

Instead, he learned that all good presentations tell a story. With that knowledge, Ron got RS&H’s storytelling down to a science. Over the years, his presentations skills class has had an outsize influence on associates.

“Ron and his training contributed directly to my own personal success at RS&H, having won the 2018 Project Manager of the Year,” said Senior Transportation Engineer CJ Youmans.

Graphic Design Manager Amanda Mason seconded that sentiment, adding that Ron serves as a model for others within the company.

“Ron listens; Ron shares,” said Amanda. “He is a true example of how a leader should be.”

Forward-Thinking Leadership

Ron looks at his work through a visionary lens — imagining what can be and then implementing it. Just one example comes in the form of RS&H’s now award-winning video team.

Years ago, Ron recognized video’s potential in the A/E/C industry, and he proved its value through “In the Blink of An Eye,” a 2014 mini documentary about the Mathews Bridge project.

After its success, he proposed adding a video team to the Communications, Marketing and Strategy group, and he was instrumental in the hiring of veteran videographer Steve Scheiber in 2014. Steve now leads two other videographers in the creation of award-winning content for RS&H and its clients.

The video team is one in a string of innovations Ron has led over his career. But his ability to innovate the company is just as impressive as his ability to reimagine himself in a new role.

Secrets to Success

Ron’s resume is long and varied – evidence of opportunities seized, curiosities explored and knowledge gained.

But Ron says that his success stems as much from RS&H as it does from his actions.

“I think it’s two things: people and opportunity,” said Ron. “I’ve found great opportunities here, and I work with talented people.”

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