How many identities do you have?
Only one identity but I do lots of different things!
While some people seem to have separate identities for their different roles in life, I think anyone who knows me will say that I am always the same - whether it’s a work situation, or with friends and family. I am completely honest and say what I think (which sometimes gets me into trouble!). A friend once described me as completely authentic and I took that as a huge complement.
The things I do:
1. Mum to eight month old May-Lee. This is my biggest job at the moment. I had no idea how much work babies are!
2. Project Manager and Board Member at Historic Heart of Perth. I have been working on this project for 3 years now and it has been a lot of fun. The project is about revitalising the east end of the Perth CBD through art and social initiatives. I have worked with some great people and learned a lot along the way.
3. Architect at Sandy Anghie Design. After working for other architects while I studied architecture and for a few years after graduation, I set up my own practice in 2016. My focus is on residential architecture.
4. Columnist for the West Australian. I have been writing a column for the past two years called “Meet the Architect”. The aim of the column is to demystify architects. Most architecture magazines focus on particular projects, in my column the focus is on the person behind the work.
5. Chapter Councillor at the Australian Institute of Architects (WA Chapter). I was elected to this role by fellow Perth architects – which is a great honour. The Institute’s role is to promote architects and architecture.
6. Law Museum History Committee. I am a nerd. I love history!
Tell us a bit about your story and how you’ve got to where you are now in business?
I always wanted to be an architect but it was quite a journey to get here. I finished school in 1991 during a recession and the architecture and building industry were facing considerable challenges. I was encouraged to study law rather than architecture, which I did. I then worked as a lawyer for 8 years before taking a one year break in 2005 to build my first home. It was through working with an architect on this project that I made my decision to pursue my dream of being an architect – and I went back to university in 2006 to study architecture.
While I love architecture and it is something I always wanted to do, I definitely have no regrets about studying law and commerce first. The skills I acquired are invaluable, both in architecture and for my not for profit board roles. Also, having both commercial and design skills gives me a different perspective to other architects.
What has been your most challenging moment in life thus far?
Without a doubt having a baby! I had no idea how much work it would be. I bought two cots before May-Lee was born – one I placed in my bedroom and the other next to my desk - and, since I work from home, I thought I would work while the baby slept. I had no idea why people took maternity leave.
Well, May-Lee hardly slept for the first 6 months so nor did I. I did manage to get some work done during that time, although I am not sure how! Now she is 8 months old and sleeping more so life is getting easier. I am finally getting some sleep and because she is more predictable I am able to plan my days.
How do you feel stereotypes have affected women in society so far?
I think in many households women are still expected to be the main carer for children while men take care of finances. While gender equity is now much talked about in workplaces – for real change to happen this conversation must start at home. Workplaces need to accommodate flexibility but so does your partner. The government and employers can’t be expected to solve the problem if there is no give and take at home.
How have you grown as a person, mentally, emotionally and spiritually since starting your own business?
Prior to going back to university to study architecture I had a series of “jobs” where I had a defined role / title, annual performance reviews and worked towards progression / promotion.
I now have a portfolio of work that is constantly changing and evolving. It’s not about trying to get somewhere. It’s about enjoying the here and now and making a contribution.
To be honest, where my career will go from here is hard to know. I have some ideas about what I would like to do next but my career seems to evolve. Great opportunities arise and I embrace new challenges and change.
How has motherhood changed you as a business woman?
Work for me is about the joy of doing - the designing and drawing, thinking and writing – so in the past I tended to do much of the work myself without delegating. But now I no longer have time to work 12 hours a day so I have had to find different ways of working to keep everything going.
Before May-Lee I didn’t understand how hard it was for mothers to continue to work. I had to experience it myself. I’m embarrassed to admit that I would go to the homes of friends with kids and think what a mess – what are you doing all day. Now I know! My home is now also a mess and there is absolutely no time to fix it!
How do you plan to leave your mark in the world?
There has been a lot written about “millennials” being the purpose-driven generation – searching for jobs that offer a strong sense of meaning, not just a paycheck. I think that’s me. (Although I am way too old to be a millennial!)
Purpose and making a contribution are really the deciding factors for the work I pursue. For example, with Historic Heart, I was born in Perth and have lived here all of my life so what I love about the project is that I am making a positive difference to our city. The project is focused on the fine grain, the streets and the people. It’s about creating a sense of community and a city where people want to live and play – not just work. This is important to me.