There was probably no point in my career when someone would have said that I was on track. Going from architecture to interior design to business to real estate and back to architecture. Because of that off track model, I had amassed a unique range of skills and more importantly, I understood how things fit together. It created an ability to see how design and architecture can connect to the world around us. I ultimately became CEO of one of the largest and most influential firms in the country, Gensler.

My message is, follow your inner voice, recognize what energizes you, admit what you don’t like, stretch your capacity. You were made for something much bigger than you think. Maybe not in scale, but in importance for sure. Solve the unsolvable. You are the elite in our profession. You have the mental strength and the interest to have a real impact. There are many places for you to bring your talent. 

I say, take on the big stuff. Learn how to stretch during your early career years. You have to pay your dues, you may be a small player on a big effort, but you learn a lot from that position. Personally, be careful of complacency in small niche firms. It’s a waste of your talent and potential. And the world’s problems won’t wait. Get in the tough stuff with the rest of us. 


  • Diane is Global Co-Chair of Gensler. Since 2005, the collaborative leadership embodied by Diane and Global Co-Chair Andy Cohen has been fundamental to setting the company apart as a leading design firm. As a hands-on leader, Diane oversees Gensler’s global platform and its day-to-day operations, with 6,000+ people networked across 55 offices, serving more than 3,500 clients in over 100 countries. Diane is focused on Gensler’s global talent strategies, performance, and organizational development to ensure that we serve our clients with the world’s top talent. She is the catalyst for Gensler’s Research program, for which Diane is committed to delivering value to clients through strategies and innovations like Gensler’s Workplace Performance Index® (WPI). A registered architect, she graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and holds an MBA from the Anderson Graduate School of Management at UCLA. Diane received an Outstanding Impact Award from the Council of Real Estate Women and is both a Regent of the American Architectural Foundation and a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects. Her insights have appeared in the Financial TimesHarvard Business Review, the Washington Post, and The Economist; and she was a featured speaker at Bloomberg Businessweek’s CEO Conference as well as the United Nations’ COP27 Climate Change Conference. In her role, Diane serves as a key contributor to what is acknowledged, by its peers, as the most admired architecture firm in the world, pioneering project types and design innovation strategies for the next century and acknowledged by Fast Company as one of “The World’s Most Innovative Companies” and by Forbes as one of “America’s Best Large Employers 2024.” In 2022, she was honored with the World Trade Center Institute’s Global Visionary Award. That same year, she and Andy were included on Forbes’ inaugural “Future of Work 50,” recognizing leaders shaping the office of tomorrow, today. In 2021, they were named to Business Insider’s list of “100 People Transforming Business,” which honors business leaders in 10 sectors who are innovating, sparking trends, and tackling global challenges. And in 2016, Business Insider included Andy and Diane on its inaugural “Creators” list, which recognizes the world’s 100 top creative visionaries. Diane is a member of Gensler’s Board of Directors, serving as its Chair of the Executive Committee, and is a former board chair. She is also on the Board of Directors of Boston Properties, where she holds the position of Chair of the Sustainability Committee and Member of the Governance and Nominating Committee. Additionally, she is a trustee of The MIT Corporation as well as a member of its Risk & Audit Committee.