Over the past couple decades, Eileen Korth learned to juggle multiple responsibilities with a deft touch. Not only did she become a mother in the interim, but more recently, she rose to the top of her firm, Jackson-Jackson and Associates.
“In 2007 when I received [the 40 Under 40 honor], I was pregnant with my first child,” she said. “So, becoming a mother and learning to balance my professional career with work responsibilities was, and continues to be, challenging from time to time.
“You learn you can’t have it all, so you better decide what you want. I have also learned that my priorities move and shift and I need to stay flexible. Sometimes I have to make project deadlines my top priority and other times family activities are my top priority.”
Taking the Helm
Korth not only became a mother, but in 2014 she was named president of Jackson-Jackson, and three years later acquired 25% ownership in the firm. This further solidified her commitment to the company’s success and she has delivered, growing the business considerably across various market segments.
“Over the past 14 years, we have grown our architectural services in the K-12 and post-secondary education market sector, and expanded our architectural design work with numerous state agencies,” she said.
Korth said this growth has led the firm to several substantial projects. Among them, U.S. Conn Library renovation and Memorial Stadium press box replacement at Wayne State College, Omaha Public Schools Gifford Park Elementary, and Elkhorn Public Schools North Ridge Middle School.
For as much as these projects added to the firm’s reputation – Gifford Park and the Wayne State library were both recognized by American School and University for Outstanding Design – Korth said understanding the value of smaller projects are what really forms the foundation of the firm’s book of business.
“I have also come to appreciate the importance of smaller projects that may not seem significant to anyone except our clients, but are really rewarding,” she said. “For example, we do a lot of exterior restoration, roof replacement and ADA upgrades to facilities.
“One of our clients is History Nebraska, through which I get to visit wonderful historic sites around the state. I’m proud we are a partner in protecting, preserving and making Nebraska’s history accessible for future generations.”
Passing the Torch
Along her professional journey, Korth has had the opportunity to mentor many up-and-comers in the profession. Her advice reflects the well-worn business ethics that have helped her company grow.
“Architecture is a service-based industry,” she said. “Listen to what the owner is telling you they want and need, pay attention to the details, always be curious and eager to learn something new every day. Most importantly, good communication is key to the success of every project.”
Korth takes the unique perspective that while her firm actively seeks projects, the best and most rewarding jobs actually choose Jackson-Jackson and Associates, not the other way around.
“We get the projects we are supposed to get,” she said. “I used to over-analyze each step in the process if we were not selected. I have since learned to find peace and confidence in my faith that we get the projects that we are meant to do.
“Now, when our team is not selected for a particular project, I can say without hesitation ‘That wasn’t our project,’ and typically not long after that, we are awarded a project that is the right fit for our team.”
Success, as they say, is its own reward, but Korth also says that the same things that inspired her to go into the profession in the first place are still alive and well in her, every day.
“Things that I really enjoy about being an architect and that motivate me every day are first, I work with a great group of individuals,” she said. “We all work together to support each other and have each other’s backs.
“Second, every project is unique, with a unique set of challenges and opportunities to create something that will have a positive impact on the lives of those who use the buildings and spaces we design.”
The scope of Korth’s work outside of the office rivals that of what she does for clients. She is currently a board member for the Nebraska Chapter of the Association for Learning Environments (A4LE) and has also served as a juror for the A4LE Pacific Northwest Region Pinnacle Award.
In addition, she is past president, former secretary and board member of the Nebraska Chapter of the Construction Specifications Institute, as well as sitting on several committees, including for the 2012 North Central Region Conference in Omaha. She also enjoys volunteering for youth programs, specifically 4-H, and is active in her parish, St. Francis Borgia Catholic Church in Blair.