Dan Johnson

The journey so far…


I have often thought about sharing my personal experiences and point of view through this site and social media; but then always stepped back with a deprecating opinion of myself.

However in my professional life I now have that level of experience when I am the “go to” for my Clients and colleagues for direction and advice.

So as part of my desire to share my experience, strategies and tools on this platform; I still feel compelled to provide you with my background in support of my voice here and stated opinions.

You will make your own decision based on this, whether you will close this page and Google another or whether you will read on.

I have 25 years experience of discovering new approaches, trying different strategies and testing analogue and digital tools. As with any learning experience I have made many mistakes alongside my achievements. Perhaps the content here will help you sidestep some of the issues and challenges that I experienced along the way.

Career / Profile

I studied Architecture in Manchester, a large city in the north of the United Kingdom. Architecture is a seven year program in England, requiring you to study two degrees and a Graduate Diploma in Professional studies before you can achieve “chartered’ status with the RIBA.

I secured my first job with a large firm in Manchester, attending interview as many of my graduate colleagues went on stage for the presentation of their second degree. I felt that I didn’t need a second ceremony after already doing the cap and gown routine the first time around.

I came in to the workplace as CAD was taking hold in the industry and as a new graduate had skills that meant I could be used on projects from day one. Within a couple of months of making a contribution to a national account, I was approached by the Associate in charge and given multiple projects and project management responsibilities.

Besides working on multiple other projects I had the opportunity to join a mid sized design firm in Leeds. This was a practice with two partners and involved in arts and education projects and I was pivotal to taking them digital.

It was here that I achieved my Chartered Architect status (RIBA) which then led rapidly to a new opportunity and where my career took a dramatic turn from the typical path of a young architect.

I was approached by an Interior Design company to join them and to launch an Architecture side to the business. I has two years post graduate experience and was offered Partner in the expanded business. My role was to develop the Architecture business, build a team and then deliver multiple buildings for an existing recreation client of the firms.

The venture was successful and we secured a national account to develop recreation projects across the UK. This then lead to an opportunity to move in to the Childcare sector and with that I conceived and set up a new Architecture practice to deliver that work, called ADM.

We were a 8-10 person firm for a period of 5 years providing architecture to commercial and leisure clients. I then saw a shift in the market with many of our clients from the Public sector and less experienced with delivery new building projects. I developed CONSULT as a collaborative between ADM and a number of engineering and landscape architecture firms to provide a one-stop solution for these new types of clients.

After 8 years of steady success ADM was successful in winning a major new campus development for a regional college in the UK. At that I was looking for a new partner in the firm that could assist me with new business development. This led to an approach from a national firm, SMC Group, who were in acquisition mode and ultimately an offer to buy ADM and the CONSULT brand.

After long deliberation I opted to sell my practice for the chance to work more as an Architect and less as a Businessman. My small firm was merged with the local office of SMC Group. They were in turn acquired by Archial and then Ingenium and are currently practicing under the NORR banner in offices across the UK.

Before the Archial acquisition I was approached by a rival firm, TPS Consult, lead by a former director of SMC Group, to join them to develop a new education portfolio. My Childcare design experience (over 100 projects) provided me with an expertise to develop this opportunity with the fellow Director. We partnered well and over time we grew a three man operation with on experience by 300% in terms of projects and fee revenues. We continued to do well in the Education sector and we expanded with new commercial and industrial opportunities with a talented team with three studios across in the UK.

But I wanted more...

It seemed to be getting too easy again and I didn’t feel that I was getting the professional challenge that I craved. I also reflected on the fact that I had not worked internationally before and was curious as to the opportunities out there.

At that time, with the UK and much of Europe in recession, there was only Australia and Canada with strong markets. I decided that the mountains and lakes of Canada better suited us and after many connections and a few interviews, I was approached by Stantec in Alberta.

I conference called with their Vice Presidents in September 2012, was flown over to Calgary and the Rocky Mountains for a tour and offered the job on that trip. By December 2012 my family and I were packed up and emigrating and I started for Stantec as a Practice Leader in January 2013.

After 8 years with the firm in Central Alberta I was approached to lead their studio in the practice’s international head office in Edmonton. I now co-lead a team of 100+ Architects, Designers and Engineers for Stantec working on all types of projects across all market sectors.

A slightly unconventional career path to date but this variety has given me some unique experiences that have provided opportunities for leadership on significant projects and to lead talented people.

As stated above, I feel after some 25 years of this experience that I have something to offer the readers of this site so here I am.