Sheela Maini Søgaard

Sheela Maini Søgaard (DK)

Presentation: BIG (Disrupt the normal way to solve architectural programs)


Sheela Maini Søgaard is a Partner of BIG - Bjarke Ingels Group and as CEO, is responsible for the general management of BIG. Her responsibilities include operations, finances, business development and organization development as well as client relationships and studio vision. Since joining BIG in August 2008, her focus has been on optimizing the operations of BIG to create a sustainable company poised for growth with an agenda to contribute positively to architectural and urban development. Sheela’s focus at BIG has evolved over the past years from running a small office of 45 employees in Copenhagen to managing production and over 200 employees spread across locations in Denmark, New York, and Beijing. With a background in the commercial side of the business, Sheela’s main focus is on the overall performance of BIG rather than on specific and individual projects in the studio. Sheela’s professional experience covers, amongst other things, process optimization, cost control and business development - skills gained from her experience as Business Development Manager at Meyers ApS, International Product Manager at GN ReSound, and Strategy Consultant at McKinsey & Co.


MSc. in Economics & Business Administration | Copenhagen Business School | DK | 2000


Member | Urban Land Institute | Since 2013

Selected Experience

  • Bjarke Ingels Group | Since 2008 | CPH + NYC
  • Meyers ApS | Business Development Manager | 2006 - 2008 | Copenhagen, DK
  • GN ReSound | International Product Manager | 2002 - 2006 | Copenhagen, DK
  • McKinsey & Co | Management & Strategy Consultant | 2000 - 2002 I Copenhagen, DK


Arch. Mgmt & Design Faculty | Introduction to Design Management | IE University | 2012


3rd Place | Most Respected Practice in Architecture Industry of 2013 | Building Design | 2013

Selected Lectures

  • Harvard University | 2014
  • Copenhagen Business School | 2012, 2013
  • Municipal Art Society | Jane Jacobs Forum | Women as City Builders | 2013
  • Dansk Erhverv Danish Chamber of Commerce | Innovation | 2013
  • Innozone 2012 | Athenas ApS | 2012
  • Videnrådgiverne | Rambøll | 2012


Creative solutions

When you do something differently than normal there is high likelihood that you might discover possibilities that are different than normal. My boss and colleague, and the founder of BIG, the architect Bjarke Ingels, once told me that cities of the world don’t look the way they look because that is how they necessarily should look. He says “cities look the way they look because that is how far we got the last time we tried”. At BIG we try to remember that cities can be even better than they already are and that all it takes for that to happen is for someone to conceive of it, design it and then convince the stakeholders of the merits of the idea.

I want to talk to you about what it is we have done at BIG to try to disrupt the normal way of approaching how to solve architectural programs, how we have structured our business organization, and what it is that I think has been the root of BIG’s development and growth in the past years.

In the brief time available I will touch on what is key in maintaining excitement and exuberance in a growing creative organization because excitement and exuberance are what creativity thrive on. I will share why openness and sharing with our competitors, colleagues and industry collaborators has material impact on our future and I will share with you how nothing is even remotely possible without the endorsement of ambitious and visionary clients, politicians and city governments.