Day 2 Keynote

Sheela Søgaard

Sheela Søgaard is one of the most successful business minds in architecture and has a proven track record of developing high-performing workplace cultures. As the CEO and a partner at BIG—the Bjarke Ingels Group—she developed the business model of one of the world’s most ambitious, radical, confident, and imaginative architecture firms, molding their business and operations around their talent and creative culture.



This culture has propelled BIG’s “meteoric rise.” In just 10 years, BIG has experienced nearly 500% growth, opened offices in London, Copenhagen, and New York City, and expanded its staff from 50 to 400+.

Scaling up while maintaining the firm’s creative culture is no small feat. “We have a very unique culture that is spectacularly central to our way or working,” says Sheela. “If everyone spends most of their time doing what they’re best at, you end up essentially lifting the skill set of the firm. A big part of my job is to make sure our business structure lets the designers, thinkers, urbanists, and innovators do what they do best—design, create, and imagine possibilities.”

“It really is still about the architecture for us, and about the buildings. It’s less about whether we are 500 people or 50 people.”

Despite BIG’s rapid growth, “it really still is about the architecture for us, and about the projects,” says Sheela. “It’s less about whether we are 500 people or 50 people.”

So how did they get there? Vision, leadership, and not being afraid to take big risks. As a result, the firm’s impressive portfolio is influencing the next generation of architects and designers, and they’re creating a Blueprint for Better in cities and communities around the world.

Prior to BIG, Sheela led business development for Claus Meyer, the Danish culinary entrepreneur who cofounded the influential restaurant Noma. She’s also worked at McKinsey & Company and Proctor & Gamble. Sheela sits on the advisory board for the National Gallery of Denmark and on the board of directors for Maj Bank. She was recently named one of Denmark’s top 100 female executives.


Event details
Our Day 2 keynote includes a remarkable presentation and Q&A with Sheela Søgaard and high-impact, short talks by Spotlight Speakers Gabriella Gómez-Mont, James Stewart Polshek, FAIA, Roy Spence, Billie Tsien, FAIA, and Tod Williams, FAIA.

Friday, June 22, 5:30pm
Simulcast at the Javits Center: Tickets still available!
Radio City Music Hall: SOLD OUT