MA Design’s Guarantee – A Leader Advocate on Every Project

November 16, 2023
Lori Bongiorno COO

MA Design strives to provide the best client experience by approaching each project with a partnership mindset. In late 2021, we conducted a client experience survey which indicated that clients want strong leadership and advocacy from their design team. Out of this, we created a guarantee for our clients to provide a leader advocate on every project and a training program for our project managers to create a consistent experience for our clients.

What does it mean to be a leader advocate? We define our guarantee as follows:


We guarantee a leader advocate assigned to every project. A leader advocate is a client lead who excels at our core values. Any person who is assigned to be the point person on a project is expected to be the leader advocate. The leader advocate is responsible for being the driver for the project and making sure the client’s needs are met while fostering the relationship.

First and foremost, a leader advocate embodies our core values at MA Design:

  • Always passionate
  • Give more than you get
  • Relentlessly innovative
  • Stronger together
  • Energetically optimistic
  • Get comfortable with being uncomfortable
  • Treat others as they want to be treated

The leader advocate is typically the project manager, who plays pivotal role, akin to the “quarterback” of the team, responsible for managing the client, scope, schedule, and budget. He or she takes the interests of all team members and balances them to meet the client’s goals for the project. Each team member brings their talent and expertise to the project, wanting to do their best work – it is up to the leader advocate to make sure what they propose aligns with the client’s scope, schedule and budget for the project.

For example, a lighting designer may propose a $50,000 chandelier for a project with a $500,000 overall construction budget. The chandelier also has a six month lead time and the project has a four month construction timeline. The leader advocate, championing for the client, should push back for a more balanced approach to the lighting design that fits within the overall budget and schedule.

Leader advocates also drive the project. What does this mean?  

  • Making sure that a project team is working towards and meeting the project’s (and therefore the client’s) goals.
  • Being change agents who excel under pressure, embrace complexity in dynamic environments, and possess the ability to guide clients through the design process.
  • Enjoying the organized adrenaline of new challenges and the responsibility of proactively driving results.
  • Cultivating the people skills needed to develop trust and communication among all of a project’s stakeholders: its sponsors, those who will make use of the project’s results, those who command the resources needed, and the project team members.
  • Shifting readily between the “big picture” and the small-but-crucial details, knowing when to concentrate on each.
  • Using a variety of skills and knowledge to engage and motivate others to reach a project’s goals.
  • Educating their clients on the design process and the clients’ role in the process, if this is new to them.

The leader advocate takes the time to organize a project from the start, so that they can proactively guide their client through the design process. Their commitment to clear communication makes sure that clients are not caught off guard or surprised.  

Our educational program for our project managers stresses both the hard and soft skills that a leader advocate needs to be successful. This includes effective communication and utilizing our customized project management tools to effectively plan a project for success.  

At MA Design we are always striving to improve – asking ourselves constantly how we can serve our clients better. Our Leader Advocate Guarantee is our latest implementation of our culture of partnership and improvement.