Webcor Sr. Director, BD Brooke Walbuck Leads SCI-Arc Workshop

Webcor Sr. Director, BD Brooke Walbuck led a lively two-day workshop at SCI-Arc that introduced graduate students to the business side of design.

August 3, 2023


Last year, Webcor Sr. Director, Business Development Brooke Walbuck was invited to return to the renowned Southern California Institute ofArchitecture (SCI-Arc) for the third  time—this time to introduce graduate students to the business side of design. Brooke and Webcor Vice President Tom Soohoo partnered with three highly respected industry leaders known for their successful pursuit strategies to lead a lively, impactful two-day workshop for the students. The weekend concluded with student presentations of win strategies developed for a (fictional) competitive design-build pursuit.


Background on SCI-Arc Partnership 

After finishing her second speaking engagement at SCI-Arc last year, Brooke was asked to return to the prestigious Los Angeles-based design school to lead and develop workshop content for a just-launched elective called Start Up, created by SCI-Arc professor Herwig Baumgartner. Unlike most college seminars, Start Up was designed to deeply engage graduate students in hands-on, thought-provoking workshops organized by leaders within various creative industries over the course of four 2-day sessions. As the then-vice president/director of business development at an architecture firm, Brooke had already centered her workshop content on the pursuit process and everything that goes into winning work for an architecture firm when she accepted Webcor’s offer.

“After moving over to Webcor, I reached out to my contact atSCI-Arc and explained that I wouldn’t be able to lead the Start Up workshop sinceI no longer represented an architect,” Brooke says. “I asked if he’d prefer Ibow out so they could offer the opportunity to someone on the architect side, and he immediately said, ‘Absolutely not. You still have the same valuable experience from architectural pursuits to share.’ Herwig said they’d tremendously value the new perspective of a commercial builder, especially considering design-build’s increasing prominence throughout our industry.”

After excitedly accepting, Brooke proceeded to rework the workshop’s content and dig into her network to gather her panel of industry experts representing all sides of a pursuit: Tom Soohoo (representing Webcor/general contractor); David Malmuth, owner of David Malmuth Development(developer/owner); Edgar Khalatian, partner at Mayer Brown (land use); andMathew Chaney, partner at EYRC Architects. Joining forces to educate the next generation of top design leaders gave David, Edgar, and Mathew an opportunity to collaborate with Webcor in a way they hadn’t engaged  with a general contractor in the past.


“SCI-Arc is an elite, premiere architectural design-focused institution that is highly respected in the design world,” Brooke says. “Webcor’s reputation of excellence in delivering, high-design projects aligns closely with the type of work SCI-Arc students aspire to design after graduating. The buildings we deliver are innovative and bold—reflective of our core values.”


‘THE PURSUIT: Everything But Design’ 

Over the course of the two-day workshop, titled “THE PURSUIT:Everything But Design,” Brooke and her panel of experts covered the key players in the pursuit process, the factors influencing pursuit outcomes, how a firm can position itself competitively, and everything else that goes into a pursuit beyond design. Each expert prepared an engaging presentation on their current role and company, how they influence the pursuit process, and shared memorable win and loss stories and experiences to give students a window into what lies ahead in their careers. .  

“It was fantastic to have Tom join the workshop and represent the general contractor side on Webcor’s behalf,” Brooke says. “He discussed the career path he took to his current role as vice president of Webcor’s Marketing department and what led him to where he is today, then dove into teaching them about design-build and how a general contractor pursues design-build work. He was truly incredible with the students.”


The experience was just as gratifying for Tom, who says he appreciated the opportunity to connect with such driven students while working alongside—and learning from—his fellow industry experts.

“It was a great way to give back to the community and support the development of AEC students by sharing our insights and lessons learned over the course of our careers—insights and lessons they might not have learned in a traditional academic environment,” Tom says. “It’s important to share our experiences and ensure students that we’ll champion their success as they enter our business. It was great to engage with them and see them work together on their weekend project.” 

The weekend project was no small feat. Students were tasked with reading and analyzing a mock Request for Proposal (RFP)—a critical early step of the pursuit process—and shape a win strategy based on everything they’d learned from the workshop presenters. Brooke’s team had decided to center the mock RFP on something simple but familiar to all the students: the surface parking lot at SCI-Arc.  

“Once they began brainstorming, it was amazing to see their minds working and the ideas that came out of their working sessions,” Brooke says. “Watching them rise to the challenge and engage with one another to present their win strategies after just two days was extremely rewarding.”


Last month, Brooke enthusiastically accepted the opportunity to return to SCI-Arc next year as a guest lecturer sharing her industry expertise with the students. She’s excited to plan her class materials in preparation for her fourth SCI-Arc visit and to continue making a name for Webcor in the design world.