Tracey Schnick found her aptitude for architecture early on.
“I’ve always been interested in buildings, all the way back to kindergarten,” said Schnick, chief operating officer at AG Architecture in Wauwatosa. “While the other girls were playing with dolls, I spent my time building things with blocks. I’m drawn to buildings. They are fascinating!”
Her interest continued through her school years, and she graduated from UW-Milwaukee with a bachelor’s degree in architecture. In 1989, she joined AG Architecture and embarked on what’s become a 30-year path of success in the construction industry.
Schnick started as a technician in the company’s engineering department. She worked up through the ranks and became a senior associate at age 35. Schnick advanced from leading her own team to leading the company as COO. She works with budgets of more than $70 million and negotiates with the firm’s main clients, using her decades of knowledge, hard work and commitment to solve complex problems.
“I’ve been with the firm for 30 years, so I not only understand what we do but also why we do it,” Schnick said. “From there, it’s a matter of managing and finding the best way to help others effectively do their work.”
Schnick’s colleagues say she sets the bar high for the team, reinforcing AG’s reputation of excellence on every project.
“Tracey has achieved success by working hard and leading those who also strive for success,” said Ann D’Acquisto, senior associate and team lead at AG Architecture. “We have many women in our firm, and Tracey’s accomplishments are inspirational to all of us.”
Schnick encourages aspiring architects to know their material and find a balance between work and their personal lives.
“Managing a career in something you are passionate about, along with enjoying your family, may not be easy, but it’s doable,” Schnick said.
The advice resonates both with Kim Hurtado, founder and managing shareholder at Hurtado Zimmerman SC, and her masters students at the School of Architecture at Taliesin in Spring Green.
“Her advice about balancing the demands of career and family, honed by her own life experiences and the family-friendly work culture she has created at her firm, is valuable beyond price,” said Hurtado. “Tracey is the most hard-working, results-achieving architect I have ever met.”