Passing of Knowledge, Mentorship and a Friend

Think of your favorite song. The indescribable feeling that transcends through you when it plays, and the moment you are certain that you have changed, for the better. You’ve heard it many times before and you know all the words, perhaps inserted a few of your own. After time passes, you hear it again and that same good feeling comes back. This story of mentorship is like that.

Many times, mentors are older or have more experience than their mentees. While this may be a common occurrence, rare instances exist of someone who has challenged that norm and held a mentorship role early in their career, with skills of the same magnitude as their presence.

Matt Epstein began working for EXP in 2007. Without acquiring formal Building Information Modeling (BIM) training, he was known as the on-the-fly troubleshooter, Autodesk whisperer, playlist connoisseur, recommender of good books and good friend. The ideal characteristics you want in your mentor and collaborator.

In Milwaukee sat his counterpart, Margaret Luley. Together, they were part of a “BIM CAD” crew. But Margaret and Matt were their own BIM tag team, creating accurate and accessible digital models to support our buildings engineers and architects. For years, Matt and Margaret worked together, passing solutions for Revit and Autodesk, sharing music and book recommendations – all while having never met in person. The small duo, who shared a history of coming from a similar Autodesk reseller background, would soon become a strong trifecta.

In 2013, Alex Gallegos started at EXP’s Glendale office and began working with them. With a robust BIM background, Alex was initially tasked to offload parts of Matt and Margaret’s heavy workloads, learn from their expertise and then expand into his own areas of BIM and training. They began mentoring him and supporting his understanding of EXP’s processes and software solutions, and he quickly consumed the material before him, adapting to his new role.

He and his mentors soon became collaborators and springboards for innovative ideas. Together, the three were a powerhouse of BIM specialists, supporting engineers, architects, designers and project managers across EXP. From Revit, CAD, Excel to shortcuts and add-ins, Matt’s quick knowledge of all things BIM, Margaret’s understanding of processes and Alex’s inherent ability to train others kept them at the forefront of intelligent data.

The same year, Matt was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a rare cancer that develops in the lymphatic system. He passed away in 2015 at the young age of 28. The loss was devastating to his family, friends and EXP family. Matt’s sister, Dara Epstein, and mom, Leah Geanopulos shared, “Matt loved his work and his coworkers. His love for both is part of what kept him here during his two-year fight. I don’t think he would have made it that long without you all at EXP.”

Margaret flew to Maitland to meet Matt before he passed. Quietly she shares, “I just had to meet him. After all our time working together, sharing information and what we knew, he was not just my co-worker and mentor, but my close friend.”

Although Alex and Margaret have yet to meet, he describes his image of her as, “Sitting at her desk, multi-tasking and saying yes to anyone who needs help. When I reach out for guidance, she is there to help me work through the complex programs we use. If she doesn’t know the answer, she’ll get back to me when she finds a potential solution.” In return, Margaret speaks of Alex as her driven collaborator, a colleague she did not feel she was mentoring, but a bright mind to bounce ideas off to further EXP’s success.

Today, Margaret and Alex continue to share knowledge and ideas with one another. And when Revit issues emerge that need a troubleshooting expert, they think of Matt, whose presence, talent and skills changed them and their work, leaving a constant reminder that when a strong mentorship begins, it does not end.

Matt, the sharer of good music and comrade to Margaret, Alex and the BIM community, had a presence just as memorable as his mentorship style. The kind that, like your favorite song, gives you that good feeling. It’s fleeting but has changed you for the better.

We’re all still listening to the music of you, Matt.

Mentor: Matt Epstein | BIM/CAD Content Developer | Maitland, FL
Mentee: Margaret Luley | Revit Specialist | Milwaukee, WI; ALEX GALLEGOS | Revit Specialist | Los Angeles, CA

*Originally published in EXP’s Expresso: Mentorship