What originally attracted you to studying Interior Architecture and Design at AUB?
“Bournemouth is close to my heart, I grew up there and the seaside is a beautiful place to live, so the location already set a precedent for my University choice! The course structure AUB offers is just what I was looking for, it is extremely varied and allows you to explore avenues before identifying what it is you are really passionate about. For me this was the future of the workplace, which naturally lead me into the world of corporate interior design.
How did you find your time at AUB?
“It was a great adventure! The environment, people, responsibilities and workloads were both motivating and challenging. They have helped make me who I am today, and definitely prepared me for my future after graduation.
“AUB is full of creative people and the campus isn’t too vast, so I was exposed to what other courses were doing which was really great. Design and inspiration is everywhere, so I think it’s important to know what is happening in all other courses from Fashion to Fine Art. There were loads of social events, exhibits of student’s work and fund raisers, which was fun to also be involved in.
What were the most important lessons you learnt?
“Focus on yourself and don’t get caught up in what other people are doing. There is so much talent and I wanted to be the best at everything; I am very competitive! But the important thing I learnt was to focus on myself and my own talents, and admire other people’s greatness instead of seeing it as competition all the time!
How did the course prepare you for entering the creative world after AUB?
“It wasn’t easy to leave University and find my happy place within my career. No one can tell you what job is best for you or what you should do when you leave education.
“I think my course helped mature my creative thinking and understand how to express my ideas in the most creative way. The graduate show in London was really eye opening and gave me the opportunity to meet people within the design world. The course was also a place to build great friendships. The friends I made have been a great support and we still give each other career advice now.
“I am currently involved in supporting students at the American University in Dubai, with presentations to help students prepare for the creative world after graduating. I think it is important to give back and I hope to come back to AUB and speak to students soon to be graduates too.
Can you explain a little about your career journey since graduating… what jobs have you had and where? What does your job involve?
“When I graduated I headed straight to London with a pile of CV’s and business cards. It seemed the best pool of opportunity and I love the city lifestyle. I made a list of every company I wanted to work for and for 3 weeks I knocked on doors. They say you should expect a 2% response, so I was expecting a handful of replies. Let’s just say it wasn’t as easy as I thought!
“I got my first job in a small residential interior design company in Dorset, and then moved to a second that focused on kitchens and bathrooms. It wasn’t what I had initially thought I would be doing, but experience was what I needed and I learnt a huge amount which I am very grateful for.
“After a trip to Dubai to visit a friend, I realised I was missing an ever bigger pool of opportunity. The city is absolutely buzzing with construction and I felt a connection with the multi-cultural vibe. I did loads of research when I got home and discovered that Perkins+Will had a fairly new office within Dubai.
“That was the turning point for me; I had found a company that I could relate to and one which represented what I wanted to do and the kind of designer I wanted to be.
Tell us a bit about your current role, what is the best bit about your current job and what attracted you to it?
“Within a multidisciplinary firm of 100 people, I am part of a small design team of five. We are one of two teams that specialise in corporate and mixed-use projects of all shapes and sizes. From leading tech and social media companies to bank’s headquarters; small scale to high rise towers.
“My highlight is the people I work with. When you have a team that works in harmony, you can achieve great design. Dubai is extremely fast paced which I love, as you don’t have long to wait for that initial squiggle on a piece of paper to become reality!
“There is endless opportunity to learn and grow here, and I won’t leave until I feel I have absorbed everything I can from it. Dubai also feels very central in a global sense, so I have been able to visit many countries that seemed so far away from the UK.
Can you tell us a little about the work you’re most proud to have produced so far?
“My proudest moment has to be winning Office Design of 2016 at Commercial Interior Design Awards. That project was so creative and personally my first high profile client.
“For me the project represents how I feel corporate design should be; brave, bold and forward thinking. The concept was really strong throughout the design which is difficult to achieve when you have many functional parameters. The client wanted to connect people and the region, which is essentially what they do; connecting people and places.
“The concept was connecting the regions landscape with heritage, business and progression. The client facing spaces represent Dubai as a business hub, in particular the metro which physically connects people across the city.
“The open plan areas link people to the natural landscape, and the breakout spaces were industrial and unfinished just as the regions infrastructure, with new construction continually popping up all over the place!
Do you have any future career aspirations?
“My main goal is to work for myself, wherever in the world I end up. I hope to create my own portfolio within the residential sector, and invest in commercial property for co working offices within city suburbs. I believe this is the direction we are heading towards as work fits within lifestyle now more than ever before.
“I now embrace my strengths and understand the power of doing something I’m passionate about.
Finally, what’s your one piece of advice for the next generation of creatives?
“At the beginning of your career, your greatest tools are experience and exposure. Getting involved in anything creative will make you stand out from the crowd, which is essential, as competition is fierce! Don’t be afraid to look further afield too, there are so many great creative events in Europe and all over the world, and you never know what opportunities you might come across through these.
“I could not have ever imagined I would be living and working in the Middle East, working with the most incredible group of people and in such a vibrant and growing city. It has definitely opened my eyes to what else could be out there, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for an adventure.”