Melissa Pesci, AIA

Vice President and Principal

HGA Architects and Engineers


What’s your educational background?

I grew up outside Detroit, not too far from the University of Michigan. I went to Crankbrook in Michigan, then did my undergraduate study at Colgate University in New York. I knew I wanted to go into architecture but did a five-year masters program so I could get the liberal arts background as well. I majored in art and economics, then I went to the University of Michigan for my Master’s in Architecture.


Tell us about your career path. Where were you prior to joining HGA?

I started out my career with BCV, a smaller architectural firm in San Francisco, which did some planning work as I’d had some exposure to planning at the University of Michigan. I worked on the redevelopment for Treasure Island and some master planning in Southern California. I went from master planning and large development to more retail- and restaurant-focused projects. I liked that blend of doing both. From there, I moved to Associated Space Design (ASD), and was primarily focused on corporate interiors. And then about three and a half years ago, I came to HGA to start a corporate interiors-focused practice.


Please share some details about your current position. What are some of the interesting things you’re working on?

I lead our corporate interiors practice in San Francisco. My main focus is workplace strategy, creating standards for the global facilities of large companies around the world. We have a wide range of clients, from small occupiers of 1,000 to 10,000 square feet (93 to 930 sq. meters) to much larger spaces such as a 500,000 square feet (46,450 sq. meters) campus. We like working on multiple scales.

We just completed a headquarter relocation  project in Dallas, Texas, for RealPage. The new space is really dynamic, and has  changed the way their company was operating. It is rewarding to help them not just with the strategy of building the space, but also develop how the space would help them enable change. They’ve now created new offerings in food service, fitness and other programs to help them come together as a group.


Is there a single project or accomplishment that was particularly rewarding?

Depending on the day, there could be a different answer to that question. The reason is that we become very close with our clients. We spend a lot of time up front getting to know them, and as a result we really understand them and become vested in helping them solve the problems that they face. There’s rarely a client who comes to us without a problem, and it’s incredibly fulfilling to work side by side with them to solve that problem.


How long have you been a member of CoreNet Global? Tell us about your involvement and how you engage with the association.

I have been a member since approximately 2011. It’s interesting. Frankly, I got involved because of the Young Leaders group in Northern California. We have a membership drive  where we try to get new members to meet existing members, and I was just really impressed by the group of professionals and wanted to join to get learn more from them. When I did join CoreNet Global, since my introduction was through that group, I got directly involved in Young Leaders right away. I truly feel that CoreNet Global really gives back to you ten-fold whatever you give.

I jumped in with both feet and got involved eventually working my way up to the Chair of the Young Leaders for the Northern California Chapter. This is my last year as Chair as I am aging out, which is a little sad. Over the past two years, I have been on the Chapter’s Communications Committee, and now am co-chair. I also do a podcast for the Chapter and have been able to engage with all kinds of people throughout the Chapter on different topics.


What aspects of your involvement with CoreNet Global are most valuable? Please comment on the value that Young Leaders get from membership in the association.

Coming to HGA, I was really excited because HGA is incredibly supportive of CoreNet Global. It has been nice that HGA is a Platinum sponsor for the Chapter, and as a result we have multiple members of HGA interacting with CoreNet Global. It has been rewarding to see how different people on my internal team interact with different members of CoreNet Global, and it’s been great to dovetail those organizations together.

At this past Summit, in Seattle, we had several HGA people speaking, and it was cool to see how they were interacting with other companies in different markets. Through my colleagues, I have met so many people from other communities in CoreNet Global, and this has encouraged me to start reaching out to other Chapters. At the last Summit, I met with leadership members of the New York City Chapter on ways to help each other grow. Getting outside our individual communities and getting involved with other communities is exciting, and it gives us fresh perspectives.

For me, I don’t think I realized it at the time, but in hindsight I was probably a little overwhelmed by the entire CoreNet Global organization and the talent of the senior leadership that you’re seeing in those meetings. For me, the Young Leaders program made it really approachable and exciting to get to interact with people who are like you! For a while, I just attended Young Leader events to get comfortable. It was an amazing opportunity to learn new skills and make new relationships.


Do you plan to pursue any of CoreNet Global’s professional designations, such as the new QPCR (Qualified Professional of Corporate Real Estate) or MCR (Master of Corporate Real Estate)?

I am gearing up to start. I am like many of the CoreNet Global members in the sense that when I start, I want to put my head down  and finish as quickly as possible. I have tried to get my career in a place where I have flexibility to do thatand will start that process in the next year or so. I see a ton of value in the educational aspects of CoreNet Global. At the end of the day, all the people who teach the classes will be an invaluable resource. It will give me a whole new set of resources to draw upon.


To help our readers get to know you on a more personal level, tell us a little about yourself (e.g., family, hobbies, favorite places to visit, etc.).

I am married, with two sons. We live in San Francisco, and we really love it. My oldest son is about to turn four, and my youngest son is almost a year and a half. We have a dog, an Italian greyhound, as well that I’ve had for 12 years. We like getting outdoors, with lots of hikes and sports.

We do quite a bit of traveling. For both myself and my husband, our family is all East. So, we like to travel there as well as abroad and we want to make sure the kids are well traveled. They both love airplanes, which is huge!


Editor’s Note: Melissa Pesci is the 2017 Young Leader of the Year for the Northern California Chapter of CoreNet Global.