July 30, 2018

Diversity at Work: Architect and Executive Chair Camille Mitchell

For Camille, winning the art award at grade 8 graduation was expected, but winning the math award in the same year took her by surprise. It was in this moment that the young scholar realized her potential and strength for mathematical problem solving.“It was encouraging to know that I had strength in that discipline and field,” she said.

Today, Camille is an architect with KPMB Architects in Toronto, Ontario. She is also the managing executive chair for Building Equality in Architecture Toronto (B.E.A.T.), a non-profit “organization dedicated to supporting equality and diversity in the profession of Architecture through advocacy, community engagement and professional development.”Camille recalls a visit to McMaster University's Faculty of Engineering team during her time in high school.

On this field trip, she was given the opportunity to work on several creative projects, which grew her interest in engineering and architecture.

Growing up with a father who was a draftsman, and a mother who practised interior design, it was a natural desire for Camille to mesh her passions for art and architecture together as one.Fast forward to post-graduate school, Camille attended the University of Waterloo to pursue her degree in architecture. She worked at four different design and architecture firms to fulfill her program requirements; two government agencies in Toronto, and the remaining two in New York.

After completing her graduate studies at the University of Waterloo, Camille started her career in architecture at KPMB Architects.

Within the STEM acronym representing science, technology, engineering, and math, Camille identifies most with mathematics.

“What I like about math is the problem solving aspect. You’re always investigating some kind of solution. We’re investigating space, programming, funding, and sustainable aspects as architects,” she said.

Camille cites a 2007 Architect Magazine article, reporting that only 0.2 per cent of licensed architects in America are black women.

“To know that I chose a profession that I’ve already finished my graduate degree in and I already had work terms in—yet I basically didn’t exist in—was shocking and eye opening.”

~ Camille Mitchell

As a female and a visible minority in the architecture industry, Camille says she’s familiar with being the “odd one out” in work environments, but is determined to shine in this field of work by remaining confident in herself, despite any opposition.“In my role, you are required to give direction to a team of mostly men. They may patronize you, but you have to be confident in the decisions you make."

Camille stresses the importance of women in underrepresented industries facing their problems and understanding how to approach them rather than running away from them out of fear of being misunderstood. And as the next generation, Camille believes that pursuing a STEM-related career is never out-of-bounds.

“To not pursue something because there are risks or challenges? That’s just life. You may get in a car accident driving, so you’re not gonna drive? There are risks doing anything in life.”

~ Camille Mitchell

We couldn't have said it better ourselves!

Interested in more Diversity at Work stories?

See Staphesa Richards' story