Chad Schreiner: Risk is an asset | 40 under forty


Billings Gazette

Company and title: Associate Designer at A&E Design

Education and/or training: Montana State University for a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Design and a Masters in Architecture.

If you couldn’t do that, what would you do instead? I would probably pursue a career in the video game industry. I don’t play often anymore, but I have a huge appreciation for the medium. Architectural visualization is a big part of what I do and it would not only be an easy transition, but an interesting application of my skills. I often marvel at the scope of visual design produced for modern video games and think it would be fun to creatively produce these digital environments instead of the built ones.

What other passions/vocations are part of your life? I would call it a quiet, yet strong passion for supporting children. Over the years, it has taken various forms, from supporting and guiding students during my tenure as Chair of the Graduate Studies Council of the School of Architecture (MSU), to organizing lunch and learn for high school students with Inspire Billings, or coaching. baseball and soccer. I’ve never directly made a chase out of it, but I’ve found it incredibly fulfilling when it finds me.

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What’s the worst piece of advice you’ve ever received and why? I was once told that “some people just aren’t cut out for leadership.” How demoralizing. For me, anyone has the potential to be a leader or become one in whatever capacity they feel comfortable in. Years ago I took a mindset course with Elation here in Billings and it was an eye opener. Mindset is so crucial to personal performance and commitment to growth. I prefer to positively promote the abilities of others rather than reject their potential.

What advice would you give to a teenager to succeed? I get to choose this because I have introduced it to college students a few times through Pecha Kucha. “Risk is an asset.” The definition of risk is so simple, yet it can mean so much when applied correctly. Taking risks is an effective way to be bold, stand out or innovate.

What is your guilty pleasure? Marvel movies. I’ve watched most of them more times than I care to admit. The climactic battles of these heroes who have permeated our culture are my go-to ambient noise.

What is the professional achievement you still want to achieve? I have always aspired to have my work published. I think it would be so fun and immensely rewarding to open an architecture magazine and see my work printed on a page.

How do you measure your own success? Ignore the Moneyball metric. There is no statistical or monetary measure that can quantify personal success. Everything is too subjective. I accomplished a lot of what I set out to do in my career and those wins quantify success.

What failure have you learned the most from? It’s not a failure by normal standards because I finally made it, but for a short time, that’s for sure. After my freshman year of architecture school, I was not selected from my exceptionally competitive class to continue into second year. It was a blow because I had always excelled academically. The frustration was almost painful. In the end, however, I was selected on a last-minute extension. The experience reframed my perspective, not just on merit, but on performance and personal responsibility.

What is the hardest part of your job? Manage expectations. Design is subjective and starting with the end in mind is a daunting task. Every day is a balance between showing off great design while shaping expectations for the final solution.

What was the last show you binge-watched? “Yellow stone”. I had avoided the first three seasons for fear that it would distort Montana. It does, but it turned out OK. After finally watching the first episode and witnessing the wild sociopolitical intrigue of the Dutton family, I was hooked.

What is your favorite book? “Wool” by Hugh Howey.

What is the most rewarding/important aspect of your profession? Architecture is a creative industry that requires a form of expression. Putting your creative stamp on a building, and more so on your community, is very rewarding.

Who is your biggest mentor/inspiration? My father. Fingers in the nose. The story of his life had many twists and turns, but remained completely honorable. His career, more specifically, has been complex and devoted to the service of others. I am inspired by him because he finds success in what he does with an unwavering dedication to his faith and a focus in servitude.

What do you do for fun/relaxation/hobbies? I have a love for cycling. These days, however, my hobby seems to be less riding than collecting. I think it’s a default scenario where I still intend to ride, but spend time with my boys instead. So I maintain a garage full of bikes for all terrains, like a two-wheeled zen garden.


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