Co-Founder & Director – Operations (Interview PART-1)
Leading By Being the Change, The Change He Wishes to See in Architecture Many people hope for a change in their lives and their work life, very few people work towards it. Abhik Roy firmly believes that if you want to see a change, then be the change.
Abhik Roy is the Co-Founder and Director – Operations at Acorp Consultants which is a workplace interior design and build firm, he has rich experience in Corporate Interior Design, Project Management and Consultancy in Corporate Real Estate, Workplace Interior Design and Fit Out Industry across the country.
His previous experience when he was co-ordinating with vendors / contractors, other architects, designers and consultants, has helped him to understand the importance of planning and how poor planning can affect a project. It has also helped him to work in different work cultures and languages and in different climatic conditions. Since the nature of work in his previous companies were different, it has helped him in learning about project management and different approach towards each project. It also helped him gain experience in design management, design execution at site within the particular time and at particular cost, maintaining quality. His career graph eventually moved up, he was always interested in the area of budgeting. The company he was working for, understood his interest and it was fruitful for both him and the company.
Abhik is humble enough and doesn’t call himself an expert, based on his design management experience, he feels that transparency and integrity form an important part of his philosophy at a point of time or at any level in the organization. Transparency needs to be maintained with the internal team, vendors, and clients. It becomes a point of concern when not maintained. He explains about integrity stating that we should be doing right even when no one is watching us as clients trust the firm, this will help to clear the trust issue in the minds of the clients. This is also applicable for his team which is to be honest to their work even when the leader is not watching them.
Most of the times, the external visuals of a design looks very appealing but some architects are unaware how to execute it. An architect should have an eye for details, a design should be detailed from other angles too such as the execution angle and build-ability angle, just external visuals shoul’t look good. It should be flawlessly executed. Abhik suggests his project managers to challenge the designers on the execution of the project, he suggests his team members to think about the execution of the project on site than just the external appeal. Flexibility and Agility in terms of roles when needed, basics of all the parts of the project should be known to all, everyone is entitled to question the design including the clients. He says his team members can be each other’s shadow and help each other in the right way. His firm follows an open door policy, there is no hierarchy, it is a flat organization where everyone can approach each other, give suggestions when needed and resolve issues. Another interesting thing they follow is to work hard and play harder, which he further explains that when they have work, they do not think about time and work really hard and when they are done with their work, it is time to relax until they move on to the next project.
Abhik feels that there will be changes taking place in a project and we should be flexible to change, cater to the needs of the client. Since majority of the industry runs on word of mouth basis and recommendations, this will help in building trust with the client community and makeing the client happy. The changes might lead to additional work and changes in cost but it is all worth it by the end of the project.
There are many challenges to be faced in the industry. It is difficult to adjust to the aspirations of the client and adjust the cost accordingly. Stringent timeline affects the quality of the project; every project has a certain timeline as a certain sequence is to be followed and not all changes can be made within the timeline. Too many frequent changes in the project affects the project cycle. The quality which can be achieved at first hand is the best, too many alterations do affect the project. Hence a proper timeline to achieve the desired quality with lesser changes is indeed challenging. At times certain clients bring in third party, especially when they do not trust one party. This leads to misunderstandings as the philosophies followed by the two organizations might be different. There might be more changes and alterations which would affect the project. He also suggests that communication is the best solution in such cases.
When it comes to the design, client looks at creativity and innovation, something which is original. When the projects are of similar nature, there needs to be something that will make a project stand apart from another. Client looks at that small part which will help them make their project look different. All clients cannot be approached in the same way since the industry or service they work in is different. The design of the workplace made, affects their function. It should help them in smooth functioning. Pandemic brought in many changes which changed the thought process too – the technology, wellness etc. The design should help them in making changes whenever needed. Striking a balance between the design and the budget, it should not lead to cutting the corners which again affects the design.
Abhik’s firm does a lot of research to keep themselves updated. There are new thought processes all over the world to work towards due to pandemic. They take inspiration from other projects. They firmly believe in collective thinking. The team comes together every week to discuss on the new designs, discuss on the pros and cons. This brings up different thought processes together, helps in brainstorming and helps in functional success. The changing needs of the client requirements also helps in keeping themselves updated.
Abhik worked in extreme conditions at Space Matrix which involved policy and documentation, weather was extreme, peripheral conditions were extreme too, he managed well during this and he led a team. It was life a changing experience for him, he always refers to the frames of work, his team then and shares experiences with his team, it gave him a lifetime learning experience.
Abhik feels that there should be resilience, empathy and trust towards our partners be it our clients, vendors and so on. Since there is fierce competition all the time especially in terms of rate and base design, the client gets to choose either a base design or the one with low rate, hence empathy should be shown towards them, creative people in the industry who are trying to be different from the normal do not get a chance, hence they should be encouraged to come forward.
Pandemic has affected all industries, in design and architecture industry, the absorption of spaces has got reduced, survival for every individual and organisation has become difficult, there is fierce competition and everyone is trying to do something different, Abhik suggests to help each other and be empathetic towards each other, cost indeed is important but not beyond a part that it starts losing its essence.
In this generation, generally everyone is in used to the culture of talking and not listening, instead one should observe, listen and learn. They should learn about the build-ability of the project, observe at site level too. They should know about the services of the system, only the fundamental part of the design is visible whereas the main part is not visible, the design should be flawlessly integrated with the interior design, if not integrated well, it affects the client’s work and he cannot work functionally, efficiently and effectively, they should be eager to learn and adapt. They should know about the integration of products and solutions.
Vendors should keep the budget in mind while working. They should stick to their commitment especially in terms of time, since there are many unforeseen factors and approvals are required before the project begins, they should commit to the client about the timeline post the initial process. There should be proper specifications and delivery. Vendors should follow integrity and transparency in their approach.
Abhik suggests that the turnkey contractors should not compromise on quality, doing so it will lead to the downfall of the project
Different styles of leadership are followed in the industry, there is Thought Leadership at the management level, Design Leadership which is led by designers and architects, Execution Leadership where a leader leads a project or handles multiple projects, no matter what is the style of leadership, a leader should always lead by example. Be the change, the change you wish to see as a leader. A leader should subtly let others know the right thing to do by being an example.