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  • OA Team

Who are you, Shawn?

I’m interested in creating physical spaces and experiences, and I work with Clayco; at once a vertically integrated real estate development company, design-build construction company, and full service architecture firm, with the ability to self-perform concrete and curtainwall (glass) on a large scale basis.

What’s really fun about Clayco, is that our integrated delivery methodology keep us on the cutting edge of building delivery. As a commitment to changing with way we build buildings, we created an internal innovation incubator within Clayco called Treehouse Adventures. At Treehouse we have launched MU/DAI, a user experience design firm that creates solutions for complex challenges in every industry, and Uplift, a drone operating business that connects true data needs with qualified pilots under our FAA commercial exemption to fly drones. Although I spend most of my time with our real estate group, CRG, I’m lucky enough to participate in special projects for each of the other companies.


What else are you working on?

I am working on a bit of a passion project on the philanthropic side. My mom passed away from a rare genetic disease called RVCL in 2010. Since then, I’ve been working with leading experts on genetic diseases and small blood vessel disorders to find a cure. This year, I’ve partnered with an amazing team of producers, artists and culinary experts to create an inaugural event called Illumination. The event is heavily based around light as a medium to create light art installations and immersive experiences to tell a story of community and oneness. To make things interesting, we’re hosting it as a Halloween event on October 29th. All proceeds will go towards research at the John Atkinson lab at Washington University in St. Louis.

What do you care about most?

Making a positive impact on the communities I live and work in is the most important thing to me. Life is an interesting, complicated and sometimes confusing mystery. It’s important for me to leave some kind of legacy for the future. Whether it’s creating and implementing a new real estate strategy for one of our clients, creating a new business to solve an existing problem, or finding a way to bring art to people in a large scale public way, leaving the world a better place than how I found it is important to me.

How did you land on your current profession and (notably awesome) lifestyle? What were the most important steps that got you to where you are?

I’ve always followed my passions. I work hard to solve problems, and I admit when I have no clue what I’m talking about. Moving to Aspen and starting a residential construction company after college was a big step for me. It forced me to forge a community where I didn’t have existing relationships, identify business opportunities, and build teams to deliver projects. I grew up a lot in Colorado. Moving to Chicago had an even bigger impact on me. The energy of the city, the opportunities to get involved in... there just so much inspiration here.

What does a typical workday look like for you?

I start every day with two glasses of water, a shot of espresso, Greek yogurt, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. My office is a 10-minute walk down the Chicago River from my apartment. I love taking this walk every day, even in the winter when I’m amazed by how piercingly cold the wind can be. I’m also inspired by the architecture of Chicago, which I find just as stunning as the mountains of Colorado. Each day presents new opportunities, new challenges, various meetings, breakfasts and lunches. After work is my preferred time to exercise, typically a CrossFit or yoga class is the perfect way to sweat and get my endorphins going again. From there, I usually connect with a friend or two over dinner. Sleep is key to the success of my next day, so I usually crash as soon as I get home.

Where have you travelled to this past year?

I’m incredibly lucky to have traveled to Aspen, Colorado several times this year. Twice for skiing, twice for weddings, and twice for hiking. My family has a place in Aspen that we call the Rosebud Ranch, and it’s definitely our escape from city life. You can see the barn we built and my sister’s wedding in the distant background of this photo.

Outside of Colorado, I’ve been on the move quite a bit this year for work and play; to Cuba, St. Louis, Arizona, Florida, New York, Lake Tahoe and California. In general, my routine stays pretty much the same; being in a different city sometimes offers me the chance to go exploring on my own and disconnect from obligations at home.

I’m in the middle of planning one of my dream trips to Amsterdam to experience the Amsterdam Light Festival. It’s been on my radar for a couple years.

How have your relationships shaped you?

My relationships with my family and friends has been instrumental in shaping who I am today. The people that I’ve kept close in life are genuine, loyal, persistent, loving and supportive. I wouldn’t have the courage to take big leaps without them.

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