About Build Yourself

Build Yourself helps women in creative fields succeed professionally on their own terms, through trainings and resources that translate insight on women in the workplace into actionable strategies and skills that women can apply in their careers today.

While women make up over half of graduating classes in many creative fields today, they are still not making it into leadership levels at the same rate as men.


The challenges are structural, but also personal. Build Yourself teaches women to advocate for themselves, communicate their value, negotiate with confidence, and proactively set career visions, while navigating bias against women and challenges along the way. 


Build Yourself has helped women reach early promotions, salary raises, and move into roles at work that align with their strengths and improve their companies. Women leave Build Yourself trainings with an “old girls’ club” network of support, and a greater sense of the agency they have to support women and other marginalized groups in their professions.

About Mia

Build Yourself was founded in 2013 by Mia Scharphie, a long-time women’s advocate, designer and creative changemaker. 


In 2013, Mia was struck by the need for women to have a safe space for deeply personal and honest conversations their experiences at work, and for systems that would help them navigate the working world on their own terms.


She founded Build Yourself as a six week ‘bootcamp’ training in skills of empowerment and and taught it at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Build Yoursel has since grown into a full-fledged coaching and training company that works with women in design an the creative fields.


Mia’s clients achieve results like moving into senior director roles, launching new, innovative programs, and achieving $25,000 raises. She aids women in moving past bias and making their industries and workplaces better places for women’s talent. 


Mia has trained national industry groups like Women in Innovation, and the American Institute of Architects, and works with leadership and staff at global design and innovation companies such as Stantec, Gensler and HOK. 


Mia’s a former Harvard Innovation Lab resident, ran a research effort on women in social impact design for the Harvard Business School, and was named as one of Impact Design Hub’s Social Impact Design 40 under 40. She’s a graduate of Brown University and the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

Interested in covering Build Yourself or having Mia contribute?

Success stories

Barbara Nazarewicz, a landscape architect with 5 years of experience was looking for more income, and a role with more leadership and growth potential. After taking a Build Yourself workshop, Barbara applied for new jobs and landed one with a 40% salary bump. She was inspired to expand the reach of the workshop principles by organizing a local series on negotiation for women in design–with sessions that sold out every time they ran.
“I’d read all these books on the topic of women’s empowerment, but I needed actual, physical experience practicing it. Enrolling in the workshop was money well-spent. It was a good investment in my development, and it paid off in the right job for me which came with a 40% pay increase.”
Brittney Prest was in that transition moment in her career–between building experience and the beginnings of management. In the workshop,she learned that the transition to leadership for women requires being able to say no more often to responsibilities that don’t align with one’s professional goals–and set a goal of being promoted within six months of leaving the program. Two months later she was promoted to Assistant Project Manager, and since the workshop, she’s been running a group for women at her firm.
“I finally found my voice and am growing in more ways than I ever thought possible. I reached my six month goal of being promoted four months early–and ahead of the regular promotion season. I’m extremely excited about this (somewhat) new journey and still shocked that it happened so fast!”
Allyson LaPorta took Build Yourself workshop at a time when she was being asked to take on more responsibility and leadership. She was feeling overwhelmed and unsure if was up to the challenges, or wanted the leadership track she was on. The workshop gave her the support and confidence she needed to lean into the challenges, and she was invited to become a principal at her architecture firm.
“I always hoped to be principal someday in my architectural career, I just didn’t think it would happen this early. When I got the offer, my first thought was, “Can I handle this?” and then I remembered learning in the workshop that women often don’t feel ready, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t. After doing my research about the risks and responsibilities that this new role will entail, I said yes and now I’m in my first year as a principal at my firm.”
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Topics of expertise

I can speak to:

• How women can deal with the perfectionism and self doubt that holds back their career growth
• How women can set more ambitious career visions

• The bias women face in the workplace and the strategies they can use to get past them
• Ways in which women can get ahead by supporting others, instead of through competition
• Building equitable company cultures in the creative fields

Facts about Build Yourself

• Build Yourself was founded in 2013

• Build Yourself trainings focus on emerging and mid-career women in creative and design fields such as architecture, engineering and graphic design.

• Build Yourself was originally hosted at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, the Boston Society of Architects, before moving to its own label.

• The Build Yourself brand is composed of these offerings:

The Creative Career Blueprint a career accelerator that helps midcareer women define career direction, and get more creativity and confidence in their careers.

• One-on-one coaching engagements in career transition, career advancement, thought leadership and mindset and confidence

Corporate trainings and talks including group programs to advance women, and anti bias leadership trainings.

Past Press and Appearances

Selected press and appearances on the unique approach of Build Yourself and our published writings.

EntreArchitect Podcast 


NEA Social Impact Design NOW



“Design for Equality: A Voice for Justice in Architecture”



“This 6-Week Workshop Helps Women Build Confidence And Negotiating Skills At Work”
Fast Company

build_yourself_christian_science_ logo

“A Blueprint for for Women Architects to Overcome Doubt, Discrimination”
Christian Science Monitor.

“Lean Initiative: Mia Scharphie Delivers a Dose of Start-Up Energy to People and Projects”
Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Ask Us.

Interested in covering Build Yourself or having Mia contribute?