Home    AECOM    Insight

AECOM Strategist Oriana Merlo designs inviting workspaces

AECOM Strategist Oriana Merlo designs inviting workspaces

 June 29, 2023

 Read time

AECOM's People Spotlight series provides an inside look at the company's technical experts around the world.

Meet AECOM's Strategist from its People and Places Advisory (PPA) practice in the United States, Oriana Merlo.

Oriana collaborates with clients like NASA to optimize workspaces, be they offices, schools or hospitals. She is an NCIDQ-qualified interior designer and holds LEED AP ID+C, WELL, and Fitwel Ambassador certifications.

Oriana has over 40 years of experience as a designer, technologist and strategist. She joined AECOM in 2020, is based in the company's Boston office, and serves as the practice lead for the PPA group in the New England region, U.S.

Let's hear more about Oriana's inspiration and work, and how she designs for wellbeing and productivity.

Inspirations to join the industry

Oriana's inspiration to join the industry stems from her love for diversity in work. In her current role with AECOM as a Strategist in the People and Places Advisory practice, Oriana gets to speak with clients about how they can optimize a variety of spaces, be it offices, airports, schools or hospitals.

"A lot of the work I do involves listening to people and talking to them about the best way to experience and utilize space — and that’s really interesting. I get to call on a lot of my background and experience, for example in IT, interior design, management and organizational behavior, and using all of those skills every single day," says Oriana.

"The most rewarding part of my job is being able to make big differences to the usability or feel of a workspace environment simply by making small changes and witnessing the positive impacts on not just the productivity of the occupants, but more importantly, on their overall health and wellbeing."

Oriana's favorite AECOM project that she has worked on

Oriana works with many Federal Government clients in the U.S. Often these departments have highly constrained budgets, so she focuses on how she can deliver the best insights, recommendations and solutions to meet their objectives and levels of affordability.

"One of my favorite series of projects I have worked on is for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which works tirelessly to make groundbreaking scientific discoveries that benefit humankind," explains Oriana.

"My work with NASA involved identifying ways they could make savings on their real estate portfolio to be able to allocate more funding towards their various missions for the benefit of research, aeronautics development and space exploration. For example, we’ve created planning guidelines to provide NASA’s facilities teams with a toolset to help plan consolidations, renovations and remodels," Oriana adds.

How Oriana's work positively impacts the community

Sometimes, the greatest impact can come from little changes that can be made. With NASA, Oriana and AECOM discussed how to make fiscal savings whilst still creating an inviting and comfortable atmosphere for everyone working in their buildings.

"We also considered the psychological impact of different types of spaces on productivity. The environment has so much to do with how well the brain works and there are a lot of things you can do to get your brain to think more creatively and have it operate at peak performance," comments Oriana.

"We employed some of those tactics to make the work environment even better for NASA employees. For instance, we’re looking at providing a variety of spaces for NASA employees to work in, allowing people to choose where they want to work for any part of the day, based on the task they’re working on."

"Providing these services to all clients regardless of size or sector is really fulfilling. Even if the enhancements we implement are small, the impacts on our clients can be huge, and it’s great to see that," says Oriana.

A piece of career advice

For Oriana, never being afraid to try something outside each individuals comfort zone is really important in a career.

"At worst, you’ll learn a new skill. At best, it can open doors to amazing opportunities that you might have never known existed," concludes Oriana.

Embark on a successful career that drives innovation

AECOM employees work within a global community of technical experts and professionals, creating career paths that fit their goals.

Inspired to bring expertise, skills and unique perspective to help AECOM solve its clients’ biggest challenges?

Search all job opportunities available with AECOM.


Search jobs

Stay connected by subscribing to our monthly newsletter and following us on LinkedIn, X, Instagram and Facebook.

Disclosure: Where Women Work researches and publishes insightful evidence about how its paid member organizations support women's equality.


Join our women's careers community