The Leader Magazine

MAY-JUN 2014

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48 the LEADER | May/June 2014 ❱ "Your space is your most powerful, yet underleveraged business tool," asserts Melissa Marsh, founder and CEO of New York City-based Plastarc. An expert in workplace strategy and change management services, Marsh insists that any business can increase its per- formance by looking at its real estate as a tool, rather than just a fnancial asset, and observing how the workplace impacts personnel. Experimenting and never fearing failure are two keys to success in workplace innovation, she adds. Gathering and learning from the data you collect during the experiment is another. Marsh holds a Masters of Architecture degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She explains that her background in architecture and social science diferentiates her from most of her competitors, and allows her to bring a fresh perspective to her projects. "Many consulting frms that special- SERVICE PROVIDER B Y J O S E P H D O B R I A N ize in organizational design started out as accounting frms," she explains. "Tey tend to give you recommendations for a new performance management system. My work is business consulting in the medium of real estate, especially archi- tecture and interior solutions. "I'll start by asking, 'Why do you have space to begin with?' Presumably you want an exceptional space to bring people together, so the next question is, How can we achieve the highest and best use of this space? Plastarc is a young company, not quite two years old, with four full-time team members, but the practice is bigger than it looks, Marsh explains. It includes more than a dozen "committed consultants" on call from academic and research organizations, plus formal and informal partnerships with architecture, real estate, technology and project management frms. "We're a new model of a company," she explains. "We ofer a network of the right people where and when you want them, and leverage technology well." Over the course of her career Marsh has had the opportunity to work with clients at key moments of transforma- tion. She often combines research, design, policy and education with new physical environments. Marsh says she considers many of the organizations that hire her are collaborators, as much as clients. Among many others, she has worked with BBVA (Madrid and Mexico City), Capital One (Richmond, Va.), Cisco Systems (San José, Calif.), Pfzer (New York City), and the United Nations. For the U.S. General Services Administration, she designed and deliv- ered an executive education program for 1,100 real estate specialists in 12 regions across the U.S. Marsh has also contrib- uted to professional development courses for CoreNet Global, AIA and several university programs. Plastarc works with client companies of all ages and sizes; Marsh says she's often asked to help an older company operate with a new and fresh perspective. Mature companies are often looking to become more nimble and fexible, while young companies are seeking to develop standards and methods for managing space. Both present opportunities to leverage workplace. "We collaborate with WeWork, which is a coworking enterprise that's just tak- ing of: Tey've opened eight buildings in Manhattan in the past couple of years," she says. "Large organizations like American Dare To Experiment, Harvest Data, Urges Plastarc Founder "We become immune to physical environment over time, and we are underserving ourselves by not figuring out why it's not working. If it's not working, the solution is not to wait for the best answer, but to try something else and see if it works better." service provider (marsh).indd 48 4/22/14 7:49 AM

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