In this month’s Board Spotlight, we’re proud to share words of wisdom from Shawn Seama, a member of WDCEP’s Board of Directors. Shawn currently serves as President for Hoffman & Associates..
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received from someone else (at any point) in your career?
Shawn Seaman (SS):“Know when to be silent and know when to speak.” That has stuck with me for a long time, and it’s something that I practice almost every day and has served me well.
How does community play a role in your day to day at work?
(SS): Our [Hoffman & Associates] DC office is in a perfect spot. We are right in the middle of everything here at The Wharf and ideally positioned to immerse ourselves in the Southwest DC community. It’s so unique to be able to enjoy the amenities and benefits created through a project that we designed and built from the ground up.
We have been working with the Southwest DC community for 16 years and see ourselves as very much a vital part of it. The Wharf was intended to be the center of a new waterfront neighborhood in DC and it has been incredible to see the amount of diversity and neighborhood traffic that drives the vibrancy of the Wharf.
What does leadership mean to you?
(SS): Leadership to me means being in the front of the boat, not the back. It’s easier to create an environment of trust and respect where you, as a leader, are willing to be out in front with those that work for you, and oftentimes it means being willing to roll up your sleeves and do the same work you would expect others to do. Building The Wharf was the ultimate team environment, and I had the distinct pleasure to lead that team for 16 years. People have come and gone over the years, but the core team has remained with a passion for delivering the project with a “whatever it takes” attitude – this often required adaptability and flexibility on roles and ultimately perseverance in the face of adversity. I think a real leader is someone who unwaveringly rows alongside everyone else towards the final vision/goal, even if that takes a long time and a lot of energy.
What has been an invaluable learning lesson from a challenge you’ve faced in your career?
(SS): One thing that I’ve learned is that being flexible is crucial. Development is full of unexpected challenges whether they are economic, social, jurisdictional, or other. I learned early in my career that sticking to a plan rigidly, because that was the plan, is a recipe for failure. Being receptive, open and aware is critical to success in development. The real successful development is the one that assimilates all of the external feedback and delivers it into a project that is responsive and adaptable. Collaboration actually does yield the best results in the end. We’ve seen this over and over again at The Wharf, where in the end, we are grateful for the challenges we were presented with because they’ve ultimately made the project more interesting and vibrant.
What is something you are excited to either solve or spearhead in the next five years?
(SS): The next five years is going to be an incredible time for the Hoffman & Associates team. Following the incredible success of The Wharf and its completion this October, our corporate trajectory is growth, and projects are spanning multiple regions in the US. My personal role is going to have a lot to do with this expansion, determining our key markets for growth and expanding our team to meet the demands of our growing pipeline. I’m eager for the new challenges and opportunities this presents for more neighborhood enhancing development projects in DC and beyond.
President | Hoffman & Associates
+ WDCEP Board of Directors