Gina Gritzuk grew up in Olney, Maryland and went to Northeastern University where she earned a B.S. in Architecture with a minor in Urban Studies. Prior to joining Essential in January of 2019, Gina was a part of the consulting studio at global design firm Gensler, working on corporate real estate and headquarter strategies for Fortune 500 companies in New York City. As Senior Design Researcher at Essential, she utilizes her experience in design consulting to facilitate research, gather and interpret data, and tell compelling stories that empower business leaders to make informed design decisions.
You started your career in architecture. What got you interested in design research and strategy?
“Ultimately, my original interest in architecture has transformed into a career in problem-solving. I’ve had experience working in all phases of design, but what I have become most passionate about is working with stakeholders and end-users to understand their requirements and define project parameters. I strongly believe a proactive approach to design yields the most successful results, and I love being a part of teams that do this in a collaborative and creative way.”
What is your favorite thing about your role at Essential?
“In my role at Essential, I am constantly learning. Each new project allows me to become a pseudo-expert in a new topic - usually one I never thought much about before. Whether it’s in medical devices, consumer products, technology, or manufacturing - I really dive deep in order to approach the project in an informed and thoughtful way. My brain is filling up with some interesting (and random) facts, and I’m hoping to see positive improvements in my bar trivia contributions soon!”
What’s the most challenging thing about your job that people might not realize?
“Listening can be exhausting! I would say that about 50% of my job is focused on listening to and observing others. One might not realize that those are active tasks, not passive. When I’m in the field I try to absorb as much as I can. I usually come home from those days physically and mentally drained (no matter how much coffee has been consumed along the way).”
What might people not know about you?
“I am a classically trained cellist. I started playing at a young age, bought my own Stradivarius (copy) as a teenager, and was a part of a professional string quartet for several years. I lost count of the number of times we played Pachabel’s Canon for the brides, but will never forget the Elvis-themed wedding we played in (it involved making our own string arrangement of “Can’t Help Falling in Love”).”
If you weren't so damn good at your job, what would you be doing?
“My dream side-gig is to be a chicken coop architect. Urban and suburban chicken ownership has really taken off in the last few years, but coop options are limited. That doesn’t have to be the case. Why not have a coop that matches the aesthetic of your modern home? Looking for something more epic to house your beloved chickens? Might I suggest a replica of an architectural landmark? Perhaps the White House or Fallingwater? As I see it, the options are endless. And it would give me a chance to maintain some of my architect skills. This might involve buying my own chickens and conducting some ‘user’ research. To be continued...”
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