Victoria Cerami leads one of the premier acoustic design and technology consulting firms in the world. Headquartered in NYC, with additional offices in DC and Philadelphia, Cerami and Associates has left its mark on the acoustic soundscape. The firm has developed the signature acoustic sound of the Museum of Modern Art, Hudson Yards, Manhattan West, Salesforce Tower, and the One World Trade Center.
“If your experience of a space is seamless; acoustics or connectivity goes unnoticed; our design is a success.”
For Cerami and Associates, success in acoustics and connectivity means becoming invisible. Cerami explains, “If your experience of a space is seamless; acoustics or connectivity goes unnoticed; our design is a success.”
What sets Cerami and Associates apart isn’t just the exceptional experience produced with their client-centered approach, it’s also Cerami’s leadership. In many regards, her leadership reflects the firm’s work in acoustic design. It’s a people-focused approach with a goal of being seamless, and key to the firm’s success.
Becoming a Leader
Life turned upside down for Cerami in 1987. Following the death of her father, Cerami was faced with a monumental decision. Would she purchase the small, innovative, acoustical engineering firm her father founded in 1965? “I was given an opportunity, a chance, to run a company… At 27 years old, trying to make it in a male dominated industry, I had to dig deep to find the gumption. I had the skill and passion, and whatever I didn’t know I would figure out.”
There was a lot to learn and, wisely, Cerami chose to draw from the experience and mentorship of others. “There are a lot of people in this industry that really mentored me and that are clients today, like Hines, an international developer.” The wisdom to learn all she could, a drive to work hard and succeed, and the gratitude to pay forward what she received through mentoring set the trajectory for the company’s growth.
Paying it Forward
Under Cerami’s direction and with her support, the firm invests in public outreach, focusing on mentoring and sponsoring a new generation of women in the field of acoustics.
“Great leaders are not ones that pontificate, but those who look to see how they can help and bring out the best in other people, and that is what I try to do.”
“The women who work at our office have been mentored by me and they now mentor high school kids, so there is a whole string of mentorship.” Cerami explains. “My suggestion to the women in the office is to continue to look behind you and pull others forward because, in doing so, you become a leader. You learn how to lead, because that is what great leaders do.”
This outward focus on strengthening others is demonstrated by Cerami’s own example. “Great leaders are not ones that pontificate, but those who look to see how they can help and bring out the best in other people, and that is what I try to do.” In seeking to lift others up, she’s also quick to recognize their contributions. “I feel like I have been a change agent in the evolution of the company, but it is not all just me. I throw an idea out and then encourage solutions from many different directions and angles. This is really exciting and makes Cerami an interesting, dynamic and collaborative place to work.”
To learn about the clever ways Cerami and Associates keeps connected while working from home, read Redefining “Place” During the Pandemic.
The results of this empowering workplace can be seen in the “Great Places to Work” survey the firm recently completed. At Cerami and Associates, 85% of staff say they have a “great place to work” as compared to 59% of staff at a typical US workplace. An impressive 98% of employees feel people at Cerami and Associates “care about each other”and this sense of care toward one another has remained, even as the firm’s work environment has shifted due to the pandemic. In fact, in a reflection of the firm’s pandemic response and efforts to stay connected to each other and their clients, 98% of staff say they’re “proud to tell others they work at Cerami.”
Invisibility means Success
In Cerami’s buildings, the goal is for acoustics and connectivity to go unnoticed. A space is successful if communication – both interpersonal and through devices – is easy and natural. It’s an effort to make connectivity effortless and invisible.
Cerami’s goal for leadership is similar. As a leader, she’s created a culture where leadership isn’t showy or pretentious – a pyramid with leaders balancing precariously at the top. Rather, through empowering others to live out their strengths, she’s created a company of leaders, a place where all can contribute, lead, and flourish.
Don’t miss seeing Cerami’s inspiring work with the Museum of Modern Art in NYC – and the way SoundPly impacted the results. Silencing the Critics: How the New MoMA Wins.