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My journey

BEATRICE C. BENNE, Ph.D.

Download a PDF version of my resume.

See a mind map of my intellectual development journey since 1995.

I was born and raised in a small village in the South West of France, in the Midi-Pyrénées region, at the feet of the “Montagne Noire” (Black Mountain), about an hour away from the renown medieval town Carcassone (located on the South side of the Montagne Noire), and an hour East of the beautiful city of Albi, where the artist painter Toulouse Lautrec was from.

I graduated from a six-year program at the Architectural School of the University of Geneva in 1995. It is through my design education that I developed an interest for large, complex urban development and design problems.  Curious by nature, I have always been interested in multiple fields (philosophy, sociology, history, art, science and technology) and I believe I have an innate aptitude in seeing the inherent, yet not obvious, connections between the components of a complex problem and for integrating interdisciplinary knowledge into a single framework.

After working as an intern in diverse architectural firms in France, Switzerland, and the U.S., and having completed my Diploma of Architect, I moved to California in 1995 and enrolled about a year later in a Master of Science (MS) program in the Department of Architecture at the University of California at Berkeley.

I completed my Masters thesis in Design Theories and Methods from the Department of Architecture at UC Berkeley in 1998. The MS program focused on the study of Collaborative Design in the context of multi-disciplinary, geographically dispersed project teams in the Architectural/Engineering/Construction industry.  Specifically, I analyzed how professionals involved in the planning, design and construction of a facility work with one another, exchange information, coordinate work, collaborate and negotiate to resolve inter-disciplinary conflicts.  I also investigated the impact of information technology on the transformation of designers’ work processes and defined requirements for developing conceptual web-based environments to support distributed work.  The Masters shifted my career toward the implementation of web-based technologies to support business processes.

I began working for Bechtel Corporation, in the Information Systems & Technology group in 1998. My responsibilities included the definition of short- and long-term strategies for web-based content management and collaboration tools; helping project team to align their work processes to new technologies; and promoting better collaborative and knowledge management practices.

In 2006, I graduated from Bechtel’s internal Six Sigma Black Belt training (Six Sigma is a rigorous, statistically-driven process improvement methodology) and helped Bechtel’s engineering and construction projects in the U.S. achieve significant cost savings thanks to process improvement.

In parallel to my work at Bechtel, I completed a Ph.D. from the Department of Architecture at UC Berkeley in 2005. My doctorate dissertation topic was “Managing Architectural /Engineering/Construction (AEC) Project Organizations at the edge of Chaos: An Analysis of AEC Project Adaptive Capacity from a Living Systems Perspective.”  Throughout the Ph.D. journey I have investigated inter-disciplinary fields such as systems thinking, complexity theory, social science, organizational theories, behavioral theory, economics theory, cognitive science, communication science, and evolutionary biology.  While I am certainly not an expert in all these different disciplines, each one has informed my personal research.

My Ph.D. research broadened my perspective and understanding of today’s complex and adaptive challenges – that is, problems that are political and value-based per nature and that cannot be simply solved with technical solutions.  In 2006, I was invited to join the Discovery AE Group, a think tank of professionals from a variety of disciplines who meet twice a year to talk about sustainability and environmental problems and to share ideas about the role, each of us can play as adaptive leaders, in helping communities and organizations face adaptive challenges.

For five years I have been a faculty at Bainbridge Graduate Institute (BGI), a distance learning MBA program in sustainable business where I team-teach a Strategy & Implementation course and a Systems Thinking in Action course.

In 2007, I moved to Portland, OR and co-founded Transformative Sustainable Solutions, Inc (dba ProjectDX), an innovative web-based service enabling governments and NGOs to meet their environmental and sustainability goals through a community-wide engagement approach.  As Product and Marketing Manager, I have been focusing on the design of tools and methods that support property owners’ behavioral change toward more sustainable ways of living.

I resigned from ProjectDX in December 2009 and I launched my consulting practice Soma Integral Consulting, whose mission is to facilitate the resolution of adaptive challenges by transforming and designing purposeful and conscious organizations, while focusing on the well-being of social and environmental ecosystems.

I currently live in the Bay Area.

I would love to hear from you.  Feel free to contact me: bea.benne@gmail.com

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