Professionals are people first (MAGAZINE)

April 19, 2022
Editorial director WANDA LAU seeks more insight into the experiences that influence professionals across the LED lighting, supply, and design chain; direct their business decisions; and impact programs and initiatives they support.

As a journalist who has covered the design and building trades for more than a decade, I try to learn a little more about my sources beyond the questions that I scrawled in my notebook.

I relish being in the company of those who love their craft — as unique or niche as it may be — and who take the time to learn the nuanced details, whose proficiency comes with being good and ultimately great in the specialty. I don’t nose my way into personal details; I’m more interested in context and learning how they see their contributions fitting into the greater goal, whether it be a successful product, project, or profession.

I wonder what decisions and experiences have led them to become the experts they are today. Not just the hours spent over textbooks, codebooks, and computer screens, but also the hurdles they’ve overcome to stay and rise in their profession. For every engineer, lighting designer, or manufacturer who makes it, countless others struggle to find their foothold, to be welcomed or seen by their profession. Undoubtedly, many great talents prematurely leave the industry, to the latter’s detriment.

In a world that rarely allows a separation between work and life, the stories of the people behind the profession matter because people invest so much of themselves into their work. Their life experiences and interactions with people and places manifest into research, designs, ideas, and areas of advocacy that go beyond the rote and become exceptional. One can imagine the firsthand or secondhand encounters that would motivate a professional to locate luminaires in places that respect their handcrafted millwork surround; prioritize daylight and views for healthcare and educational spaces; argue for uniform light levels in parking garages; and speak up for a co-worker whose suggestion was ignored.

Collective compassion can elevate companies from standard to spectacular, to become the brands that consistently gain new and repeat clients and attract and retain employees. By their basic definition, businesses exist to make money. Too often, that means they overlook what makes them great: their people.

All this is to say that I have long found the stories of the individuals behind the industry newsworthy. Though LEDs Magazine has previously published opinions and essays from lighting professionals, I want to increase the frequency of these articles by welcoming pitches from our audience. Tell us what matters to you as a valuable contributor to the industry. What initiatives and programs should lighting manufacturers and professionals learn about and support? How can the industry do better, serve more people, and use its influence for the greater good? What ideas must we improve upon or reckon with to avoid settling for business as usual?

In the coming issues of LEDs Magazine, we’ll begin to feature more individuals and firms that make up the wider lighting industry. We want to share their perspectives with the hope of advancing, evolving, and increasing the accessibility of the entire lighting design and supply chain — while continuing our coverage of LED business news, technologies, and applications.

Wanda Lau
[email protected]

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About the Author

Wanda Lau | Editorial director, LEDs Magazine, Architectural SSL, and Smart Buildings Technology

Wanda Lau is an award-winning editor, writer, and podcaster whose work appears in several publications, including Architectural Lighting and Architect, where she was most recently the executive editor. In 2021, she was named one of Folio: and AdMonsters' Top Women in Media, in the DEI Champions category. Along with working a decade in the architecture, engineering, and construction industry, she holds a B.S. in civil engineering from Michigan State University, an S.M. in building technology from MIT, and an M.A. in journalism from Syracuse University.