The first part of my role is looking after the research and market trends, which is a big part of our offering. I am essentially exploring how we can leverage the multitude of data points that we capture from our client’s projects, and market trends both locally and internationally to enrich our data-driven approach to design and deliver at scale.
The second part of my role is about supporting our larger clients on their workplace strategy, utilizing over a decade of international experience to help them to transform how they approach the new world of work and how they align their workspace design with their people and business objectives.
On a personal level, I am passionate about transforming the office industry from being a necessary cost for companies to becoming a tool to drive productivity, increase staff well-being, and deliver sustainable outcomes.
In my spare time, I enjoy sailing, surfing, and playing live music in a blues band.
In my previous role, I was working as the managing director for the New Zealand branch of a large multinational. After ten years there, I suddenly realised that my personal values did not align with those of my employer at all. That realization led me to resign in January 2020 and as you can imagine, this was not the best of times to be transitioning to a new role. But serendipity, I had an interview in April that year and the rest is history.
As much as the adaptation from a large multinational to a local family business was a challenge at first, the alignment I found between Studio DB’s purpose, mission, vision, and values with my own is what drove me to stay and push forward. Almost three years later, I can say this is the company I have enjoyed working for the most.
The commercial real estate industry is full of smoke and mirrors, and it is rewarding to be able to challenge that in a company that supports clients with true honest and transparent advice, whilst really focusing on delivering a return on investment for the companies we work with as opposed to just a solution that is aesthetically pleasing.
There are quite a few trends emerging at the moment, but they can all to some degree be consolidated into one: A drive for efficiencies. Now, this can be seen as a bad word, but I am not talking about efficiencies from a pure cost standpoint, I am talking about efficiencies around the topics of sustainability, staff engagement, workspace delivery models, and ROI.
For a very long time, the office has been (and this is particularly true in New Zealand), a place where people come to do their work irrespective of what their work is. There was never really the question about the why: why do we need an office? Every company’s executives assumed that an office was needed and the approach to design was one based on the look & feel rather than a serious data-based / outcome-driven methodology.
We are currently seeing macroeconomic forces driving a tidal wave of change: Flexible working is now not only possible but permissible leading to record low office utilization levels, on average just below 20%. Sustainability is becoming a key driver in talent attraction with the emergence of conscious quitting. Finally, economic headwinds are also putting pressure on CFOs to find cost reductions.
All of this combined, there is a fantastic opportunity to completely rethink the workspace and design solutions that are people, environment, and ROI centric, with employee engagement as a core focus. I often compare it to the car industry: In the second half of the 20th century, car design was about size, comfort, and looks. Now it is about efficiency to the point that even the car ownership model is in question. I think the same is happening to the office, with the competition of working from driving demand for office solutions that really address the question of ‘what is the role of the office in my organization rather than how many people I need to accommodate?’ The office experience needs to deliver real productivity benefits that the home office cannot do.