Jessica Reynolds, Partner, vPPR Architects

Von Preussen Pease Reynolds Architects are the lead concept architects for the Goldman Sachs Birmingham office.

What main challenges do diverse companies often face?

The main challenge is in helping businesses to understand that diversity and excellence go hand in hand. Global markets and socioeconomic shifts have created a vastly more complex business environment and it is essential that businesses adapt. Excellence and innovation are no longer possible without bringing diverse viewpoints to the table. We are a small women-led architecture practice with employees from multiple countries, with very different educational backgrounds, who are all encouraged to critique and comment on projects. Being small and agile has advantages – we are flexible to adapt to market changes, cutting edge technologies and new theory and we are unafraid to push our clients to question their own in-built assumptions.

How have the resources provided by Goldman Sachs enabled you to achieve your mission, maximize inclusive impact and/or grow your business?

The Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses UK programme gave us the space, structure, support and inspiration to refine our business plan and optimise growth. In parallel, we are working on a live Goldman Sachs architectural project, on which we have been welcomed with creative freedom, trust, and a collaborative environment where we feel we can question established norms. The project rethinks the workplace through collaboration, sustainability, art and technology, and has pushed our practice to a new level.

What’s next on your journey as a business and what resources will be critical?

Our growth target is to increase turnover to 150% year-on-year, triple our staff size, win a major project every six months and establish our European office in the next five years. Goldman Sachs has given us the confidence and opportunities to reach this target so far. Our relationships with sustainability consultants, artists, technologists and clients such as Goldman Sachs will be critical to our success. We always want to be at the forefront of our field, to operate outside of our comfort zone in order to innovate, which is why we teach and research alongside practice.

To continue to take positive steps toward a more diverse and inclusive world, what do more brands need to do?

  • Actively research and directly reach out to diverse businesses
  • Create straightforward engagement procedures
  • Provide ongoing support once engaged
  • Hire internally for more diverse management and senior roles

What's one thing you wish others knew about the power of a diverse supply chain and the impact it can have on underrepresented communities more broadly?

We bring innovation to brands because we think differently. For example, we apply our diversity of experience of working in arts and academia to rethink and transform other sectors. By engaging with diverse businesses, brands can benefit from new ways of thinking, and at the same time, positively transform society.