Alumni Stories

Pamela Willis-O’Reilly

Interior Design

Senior Facility Planner, Booz Allen Hamilton
The Art Institute of Colorado

Pamela Willis

In school, I learned about building codes and got to sample a lot of different kinds of design—from hospitality to healthcare and residential—so I was able to figure out what I liked the best. Pamela Willis-O'Reilly , Senior Facility Planner, Booz Allen Hamilton Bachelor of Arts in Interior Design, 1999 , The Art Institute of Colorado

Pamela Willis-O’Reilly is a senior facility planner for Booz Allen Hamilton. She supports the Office of Research Facilities at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the Leasing and Construction Department. “We manage all the NIH leased properties and carry out lease renewals, moves, and construction projects for the NIH Centers. I’m lucky to move around to different projects so I’m constantly being challenged to adapt to new situations,” she says.

Pamela began her career at OfficeScapes/Scott Rice, where she designed layouts for systems furniture. She moved into project management and was named core and shell design manager for the Pentagon Renovation, managing design and construction of a large retail/food service/cafeteria area and one million square feet of mixed use/office space. “I then moved into consulting in a role with Booz Allen Hamilton, supporting the facilities department at the Defense Health Agency and The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy.”

She adds that a typical day includes meetings, paperwork, planning, site visits, and walkthroughs. And she’s proud to have gained a position of respect in the industry, especially after being one of “a handful” of women chosen to work on the Pentagon project. “I educated myself on the subject matter, and asked a lot of smart questions. [I wanted them to know that] I was someone who could get the job done.”

To achieve her level of success, Pamela lives and breathes interior design. While she does check into the office during evenings and vacations, she encourages people to balance work and life. “Make sure you do set some boundaries--otherwise you'll end up working 60 hour weeks. As far as commitment is concerned, I make sure I'm the person with the answers—someone the client knows they can come to with any question and if I don't know the answer, I know how to find it. I give all my tasks 100% and I cultivate a good team of people around me to make sure I have the support I need to get the work done.”

She also looks at situations as learning experiences. “No one's going to die if I make a mistake. I know it sounds silly, but sometimes you get so wrapped up in the project (and the people around you typically treat it as if it were a life and death event) that it really takes some perspective to stay calm and focused.” Pamela is excited to be making a difference in people’s lives—contributing to what she calls “good design.”

Pamela, who in 1999 earned a Bachelor of Arts in Interior Design from The Art Institute of Colorado, says that her education taught her about building codes and included an overview of the different kinds of design—from hospitality to healthcare and residential. “I was able to figure out what I liked the best and was quickly promoted in my first job.  I don't think that would have happened if it hadn't been for the educational foundation I had.”

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