Chandler, Arizona is the home of education technology company Zovio’s new award-winning headquarters—and the face behind it all is Pattie Jensen. As the company’s senior director of workplace solutions, Jensen played an integral role throughout the building process and feels that the arc of her career helped her achieve this massive success.
Jensen helped build her first headquarters for Columbia Bank in Tacoma, Washington. When she started at Columbia Bank, there were only about nine branches; when she left, there were more than 30. Her tenure with Columbia Bank gave her some of the experiences that would be invaluable to her future jobs—especially when it would come time to spearhead the construction of Zovio’s headquarters.
After her time with Columbia Bank, Jensen wanted a bit more flexibility in her schedule, especially since she’d started a family, and decided to start her own design firm. For nearly five years her main job was freelancing through Pattie Jensen Design, until a friend of hers reached out in 2006 with a career-defining opportunity. He’d bought a university in Clinton, Iowa, and needed to build out a few online centers. Jensen was his first choice.
The start-up would eventually become the rapidly expanding Bridgepoint Education, primarily based in San Diego. After freelancing for a bit, Jensen decided to join Bridgepoint Education full-time for more stability in her life. It also spurred her interest in returning to school.
“I had a great epiphany where I thought, ‘I’m going to work for an education company. I should get my degree,’” Jensen recalls. “I only had my AA degree, and Bridgepoint Education would pay for my schooling. So in January of 2011, I got started on my journey to successfully achieve a BA in project management.”
Equipped with a bachelor’s degree, Jensen began moving up through the ranks. Bridgepoint Education then became Zovio, which is also when her projects began receiving significant external recognition.
Zovio’s Arizona headquarters has won two awards thus far: the 2020 Real Estate Design award for Office Interiors Project of the Year, presented by AZ Big Media, and the Office Tenant Improvement Project of the Year (More Than 40,000 SF), given by the Arizona Chapter of NAIOP. Jensen takes great pride in both of these recognitions.
Jensen credits Chicago’s annual design convention, NeoCon, as one of her main inspirations for Zovio’s new headquarters. “I love NeoCon because it just starts the thought process of being able to create progressive work environments, and inspires [me] to think outside of the box,” she says.
One of the defining features of Zovio’s headquarters is its open layout. There are no offices in the entire building, only workstations, which are desks situated in a vast space that’s big enough to allow for separation between employees. She credits this to a blending of commercial and residential design elements.
If you are looking for a private place to meet, you can head into any of the space’s huddle rooms, available for all employees without the need for advance booking. “We wanted an environment that allowed for creativity, collaboration, and teamwork,” Jensen says.
Some of her other favorite parts include the full-service coffee bar and a giant media wall that sits behind it, rotating through imagery of Zovio’s people, products, and values.
The difficulties of operating with an open floorplan in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic are not lost on Jensen. She and her team had to quickly adapt to supporting a largely remote workforce and are now welcoming Arizona team members back with social distancing and other safety protocols in place, such as staggered workstation occupancy, floor stickers indicating the proper amount of space to keep between people, rearranged furniture, temperature check machines, and more.
Despite the challenges, Jensen is extremely happy with her current role at Zovio and what she has been able to produce. “I wear a lot of different hats with my position because I know a lot about the construction, but also the design planning . . . and I love the diversity of it,” she says. “There’s never one single day that is the same. There’s always something that has to be worked on that is completely different.”
Since the start of the pandemic, Zovio has hired many new employees, giving Jensen confidence in the new space’s utility for years to come. COVID-19 may change the nature of an office building, but Jensen is sure that Zovio’s new headquarters are conducive to whatever the future of work environments may hold.