HLM Enters New Era of Leadership

HLM Architects has appointed a new Chair and Managing Director to lead the practice forward into a new and exciting chapter.

These new appointments have emerged from an implemented succession and transition plan.

Effective from today, Philip Watson is to become the new practice Chair replacing Richard O’Neil, with Michael Scherdel becoming Managing Director replacing Karen Mosley, and Lorraine Robertson moving into the Operational Director role. All three appointments are existing Directors who have been at the centre of the transformational change within the practice over the past seven years. This transformation has seen the profile of the practice grow significantly, with some of its best work coming to fruition.

These new appointments have emerged from an implemented succession and transition plan. A decade ago, Directors, including Christopher Liddle, Nick Beecroft, Mark Staniland, David Cafferty, and John Clarke, embarked on a transitional plan. Under the leadership of Richard and Karen, they instigated an Enhanced Executive Development Pathway, nurturing homegrown talent and appointing several new Board Directors internally. They also conducted an external search for complementary Board skills, which culminated in Philip rejoining HLM after a 10-year stint at Atkins.

In recent years, the practice’s ambition to be recognised as socially conscious design innovators has quickly delivered against its objectives in areas such as: achieving Zero Carbon, with the Circular Twin initiative named AJ100’s Sustainability Initiative of the Year 2022; and in developing MMC / DfMA capability, where the practice has invested in R&D and is delivering significant pan-industry initiatives such as work for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) on a digital kit of parts for low-rise housing. Company objectives also focused on developing a progressive and nurturing workplace environment, resulting in HLM being listed in the Best Companies to Work for list for, 17 years running.

The practice has had some fantastic achievements, with multiple awards won across the industry including Building’s Architectural Practice of the Year three times in the last four years, AJ100 Employer of the Year twice, and numerous offsite and design excellence awards.

As part of the transitional phase, Richard and Karen will continue as Board Directors, with their roles becoming more focussed on strategic business streams whilst supporting the transition.

Richard said, “Over a decade ago, we identified succession and practice evolution as essential ingredients to the long-term success of the practice. Developing a succession plan to nurture and foster generational talent is essential. If you fail to plan, then you are just planning to fail. As a result, these are exciting times, and we’re creating a new chapter into our 7th decade. The transition leadership and the future Board have been at the centre of this practice evolution, and they are more than ready to take HLM Architects further.”

Karen continued, “We’ve been focussed intently on nurturing organic growth and cultivating skills to secure a sustainable future. Putting 100% ownership of the practice in the hands of our people through an Employee Ownership Trust(EOT), back in 2020, was part of our evolutionary succession plan. Creating an inclusive environment where everyone can thrive and stand firmly side by side has always been and will continue to be our north star.”

Philip said, “HLM’s design profile and influence across industry has never been better than it is right now, but we won’t be resting on our laurels. Far from it. We’ll be driving forward new plans to create an even more inclusive and nurturing workplace, focusing on achieving sustainable outcomes for our projects, and investing in research that will further enhance our reputation as innovative and thoughtful designers.”

Michael said, “Being part of the HLM family for over 30 years and now taking up the post of MD speaks volumes of our ethos, how we trust in our team and that having a succession plan is essential. The HLM culture and brand remains strong and I’m feeling excited about the future for our people, our clients, and the spaces we create for society.”

Lorraine said, “The future is bright for HLM, and I’m looking forward to taking on the role of Operations Director as part of this continuing journey, fostering the development of the next generation of design talent. People are at the centre of all our work, from our EOT structure to the people experiencing our designs, and this is an integral aspect of HLM which will never change. “

The transition of the future Board will complete through the remainder of 2024.

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