Nothing like learning about someone who is pushing the envelope, getting out there on those skinny branches to knock the winter doldrums right out of you. At least that was my experience in pulling together this installment of our ongoing series, Women Across HOK.
Meet shining star and founder of HOK Product Design, LLC, Susan Grossinger. Formerly the head of Interior Design in our LA office, Susan had the idea to leverage HOK’s design ingenuity and partnerships with manufacturers to develop new product solutions that provide value in the market and are sustainable. In 2009, HOK Product Design was born and since then, has received more than 350 innovative ideas, 40 of which have gone through the development process and 20 (so far) are already launched into market. As if that isn’t impressive enough, HOK Product Design has received three Design Patents and three Utility Patents are pending, and has trademarked names including Eco-System and Freno Rain Garden. In addition, they were awarded their first contract to co-design a furniture line that enhances collaboration called Allsteel Gather.
So what is life like for the person who makes all this happen? Besides being filled with lots of chocolate (as you will read in the interview below), Susan is a very dedicated wife, mother and professional who isn’t afraid to follow her passions. And it is clear that one of those is the thrill of bringing great ideas to life. What could be better than that? Enjoy!
Q. Describe a “day in the life” of Susan Grossinger.
A. What’s great is that every day is so unique. I have at least 4-5 conference calls daily with our manufacturer clients, internal Product Design teams, outside counsel and financial teams. I review new Product ideas and then match them with manufacturers who might be interested in licensing their ideas. I speak regularly with our Product Ambassadors in each office as well as my Advisory Board. I also just updated our website and we’re working on more enhancements – to be revealed soon. And then there is the bi-weekly travel to our HOK offices, Trade Shows and Conferences such as Neocon and Healthcare Design, as well as trips to client offices ranging from Strasbourg, France to Grand Rapids, Michigan and all the way back to East Los Angeles, in my backyard.
Q. Sounds like you are always on the go. What is your favorite part of your role at HOK?
A. I love seeing the new ideas and then honing in on the right manufacturer to find the idea a great home. Our bi-annual Advisory Board meetings, where we review the best ideas submitted in the last 6 months and ideate about the future of the company, are definitely a highlight.
Q. Has your career evolved as you would have expected, or were there any unexpected turns along the way?
A. My degree is in Business Management and my career started in marketing electronics so as you can see – very unexpected. As I’ve said many times, I’m lucky to have found HOK as this is my 3rd career change within the same company – I get to continue to grow and experience brand new opportunities without having to go to another company.
Q. What is your favorite food and why?
A. Chocolate is #1 by far, with pizza being second – so I’m clearly not a healthfood junkie. I like comfort food but work out a lot and have a good metabolism (thanks Mom).
Q. What book are you reading right now?
A. I am and always have been a science fiction fan – maybe that fits Product Design – as I love that look into the future. Right now, I’m reading the King of Thrones, which is more of a fantasy in the knights of the roundtable style. I also have the Steve Jobs biography on my nightstand – that’s next.
Q. Lastly, is there a little known fact about you that you would be willing to share with our readers?
A. It may not be little known but I have 4 pets right now – all pound adoptions – 3 dogs and 1 cat. I am an incredibly dedicated animal rights person and don’t eat meat or fish. That’s why chocolate and pizza are great options.