I’ve been practicing for…a while now. I graduated from the University of Adelaide in 1991 and started working straight away, so that means it’s been 28 years.
I knew I wanted to become an architect when…I read the description of the Architecture course in the SACE guide at high school and saw it matched my interests of art and maths/physics. It was either that or physiotherapy.
I’ve had a couple of mentors…one of whom I still go to for advice and the other who has also become a colleague. Bruce Farquhar was a project officer at SA Department for Correctional Services, and guided me through my work in the field of secure facility design, passing on his wisdom without hesitation. I consider his generosity and willingness to share his knowledge as a key element to being a good mentor. Dr Elizabeth Grant formerly of UofA and now at UQ and RMIT was an early supporter and got me onto conference presenter lists by promoting my work. Again, her willingness to give me a helping hand and use her own experience and position in the industry has been an incredible help in the progression of my career.
What I love most about being an architect is…the variety of work and the different types of people you get to work with. I enjoy not always being at my desk and getting to go out on site, but I also love a day when I don’t have to leave the office and can mess around with nice pens and paper. Seeing a building you’ve help create rise out of the ground is pretty incredible.
What I find most challenging and satisfying about my job is…getting a project completely over the line, which includes feeling like you got most things pretty right. Some projects feel like they are never going to be finished, but when they are it’s such a wonderful feeling, particularly when you can look back and be happy with what has been achieved.
The project I am most proud of being involved in is…The Adelaide Women’s Prison Accommodation Upgrade Project and UTurn Construction Pathways Program. The satisfaction I have gotten by working on this project is immense. The opportunity to impact on the lives of female offenders and hopefully make a positive contribution is intensely rewarding.
Three women I really admire are…Julia Gillard who achieved so much in a short time in such a challenging environment, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who is breath of fresh air and gives me some hope for the future, Loretta Reynolds (chair of Thomson Geer Lawyers) who has risen to the top of her field whilst raising 2 beautiful children, and coping with significant challenges along the way.
If I had to list 5 things that described me (without using the word “architect”) I would say…mother of 2 sons, sports-watcher, foodie, karate practitioner, dog-lover.
If I could give some advice to my 18 year old student self it would be…find a job you love, not just one you get paid well for and try to enjoy every day even when it gets hard. Listen carefully and never assume you have the right answer – there is always another perspective. Go with empathy over ego every time.