Mangement For Design

Spring Release

The Future of the Industry — Architecture and Engineering

Management for Design continues to receive great feedback on the Business Insight networking event held at Melbourne’s popular Eureka 89, in July. For those who were unable to attend, business leaders Ian Hopkins, CEO at Norman Disney & Young, Leone Lorrimer, CEO at dwp|suters, and Tony Battersby, Director at SJB Architects, discussed some of the key challenges facing the architecture and engineering industry.

The panellists discussed what their distinct practices are doing now to ensure their businesses thrive into the future. The key points raised included strategic alliances to broaden skillsets without stretching resources, fostering and nurturing creative talent and the need for an international mindset. Leone Lorrimer talked about the alliance between dwp and suters as an opportunity to diversify into new and exciting areas through leveraging skills on both sides of the partnership. Tony Battersby said that outsourcing business services to Management for Design has enabled SJB Architects to focus on the design talent they have in-house. With the specialists at M4D taking care of business, SJB can get on with what they do best — design. Ian Hopkins noted that geographical spread is important to maintain stability through local peaks and troughs, and that in today’s global market, an international outlook both in business location as well as in mindset in essential.

When discussing what the future holds, Tony Battersby said the key to future success at SJB Architects will be to further hone the specialist skills they have in-house in order to provide a unique design offering to their clients. Leone Lorrimer said that a long-term strategic plan — and dwp|suters has just used Foresight to imagine alternate futures to develop a strategic plan to 2040 — is what allows her business to look ahead. By planning for the future dwp|suters are able to respond to change quickly, having already scoped out the solutions available to them. Ian Hopkins said there is scope for Norman Disney & Young to grow by up to 30%, but to get there the focus will be on nurturing quality staff. The company employs one graduate for every 20 staff each year and is committed to training the next generation of business leaders.

Business leaders in the audience had the opportunity to ask questions throughout the discussion, leading to a conversation about pricing and the strategies dwp|suters, SJB Architects and Norman Disney & Young employ when it comes to today’s competitive fee market. Ian Hopkins commented that everyone thought the bottom had fallen out of the market over a decade ago, but it’s kept falling since — generating a requirement to continually increase efficiency. Both Leone Lorrimer and Tony Battersby said that their firms aim not to compete on price. For SJB Architects, customers know that they provide a premium service and are willing to pay for the privilege. Tony Battersby noted, however, that sometimes that meant losing a client, so you’ve got to be in a position to take that risk. Projects that are innovative or unusual — Tony Battersby used the example of an SJB project in Asia set to house half a million people, “how often do you get the chance to design a city?”, he said — that will provide inspiration and creative growth for staff, are instances where price might be negotiated more than usual.

Attendees praised the event as “an incredibly valuable experience” with the opportunity to meet other business leaders, make new contacts and to reestablish connections with former colleagues and business contacts.

The event is part of the Management for Design Business Insights event series. Keep an eye out for the next event to be held in December 2014, the conversation is sure to be inspiring. We look forward to seeing you there.

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