President of Victor Saroki & Associates P.C., an architectural firm in Birmingham. The company is responsible for the design of plenty of downtown Birmingham buildings, including the Birmingham Theatre, Willits Condominiums building, Merrill Park Townhomes, and Townsend Hotel. It is also responsible for the Royal Park Hotel in Rochester, Shenandoah Country Club, and Chaldean Cultural Center in West Bloomfield Twp., and the Main North Loft in Royal Oak, as well as such restaurants as Five Lakes Grill in Milford, Tribute in Farmington Hills, Forte in Birmingham, Il Posto in Southfield, and Café Cortina in Farmington.
WHERE BORN: Detroit.
MOST INFLUENTIAL PERSONS:
“There are really two. My father, Yelda Saroki, and my father-in-law, Ed Jonna. My father is no longer with us, my father-in-law certainly is. I am Chaldean and I grew up in a business family, because the Chaldeans were always businesspeople. He taught me a lot about business, family, and integrity. And from Ed I learned the same sort of things – business lessons, lessons about customer relationships, about how to enjoy life, what it means to have a successful business.”
LAST BOOK READ:
“Just finished a book by Jack Welch, ‘Winning.’”
WORDS THAT DESCRIBE ME:
“Polite. Professional. A good listener. And I’m one to get things done.”
WHERE MY FIELD/INDUSTRY IS HEADED:
“In architecture, we’re headed to a little more social responsibility, especially in the design of our cities and communities. We’re on a trend of livable cities, livable communities, pedestrian-friendly. We’re moving away from suburban growth and sprawl to urban areas like Birmingham, Royal Oak, Rochester, and downtown Detroit. As architects, we build one building at a time, but they’re part of the fabric of a city, and we have to think about that. There’s a little bit of a yearning of the past, where people had front porches and knew their neighbors, and advanced technology for sustainability.”
FAVORITE TECHNOLOGICAL GADGET:
“I love my GPS navigation system. It sounds kind of corny, but I really get to understand neighborhoods and cities with that system. I see how the streets are laid out, I see the parks, I see the water. You get a sense of the way things are really developed from an architect’s standpoint.”
“If it’s a big city, it’s Paris. I love the scale, the street system, and of course the food and the shops and everything else. It’s a good, human, big city. If it’s not a big city, it’s a small city like Birmingham, where I live and have my office. I feel very fortunate to have a little jewel here where I live.”
“Travel. I love going to cities, and when I go to cities I just don’t sit in the sun. I show my wife and children the cities, and I learn while I’m showing them.”
“I love Chaldean food. It’s gourmet food of the Middle East. It’s very much like Lebanese food.”
MY HIDDEN TALENT:
“I’ve been told by a lot of people is that I can get people to relax pretty well. A lot of time I am in business meetings or project meetings or design meetings where there is a lot of tension, and clients say I can get everybody to calm down.”
HOW I WANT TO BE REMEMBERED:
“A couple of things. One, for integrity, because I was taught that way, that your name and your reputation is all you’ve got and that’s all you pass on to your children. Also the work that we do and the influence we’ve had on the cities we work in, because the buildings we’ve done will be here long after all of us are gone.”
At the annual awards reception in May 2015, one Leader & Innovator from the previous 12 months will be selected as the Leader & Innovator of the Year.