Managing Partner – Beyond Design Architects & Consultants (Interview PART-1)
Architecture is an art, a carefully curated craft. The years of experience and practice enable the designers the ability to craft and balance the client requirements meticulously with great quality. The story of Alhad Gore is a true inspiration for the design world. With 29 years of expertise, he has traversed through different routes to explore more phases of architecture. His journey was not an easy one but a great source of motivation that led to this narration.
He is a person who always believed in being humble, hardworking and honest. He says that if these three things are followed, everything else will fall into place. And having a mind with a clear vision, an attitude to work hard and the confidence to take decisions can never stop a person from success. A defining moment is such a time in one’s life when you have to make a significant choice that can alter your life and your perceptions. These experiences not only shape who we are, but they also change the way we see the world and behave. Alhad quoted that the defining moment of his career was when he decided to close his first consultancy service in 1999. Read to discover his architectural career path.
Alhad graduated as an architect in the year 1993. When he was in 3rd year, he started working with one of his professors as an intern. After graduating, he continued the internship for another year and at the end of 1994, he decided to take a plunge into consultancy to start something of his own. From 1994-1999, he did a lot of projects and that was the time when office projects were not there. It was small shops or private residences. So, for five years, he worked a lot and did a lot of projects but ultimately at the end of 1999, he realized that this is not paying him because he said, he had little buisness knowledge back then. And there never used to be a PO from a client or anything written on paper and the client would finalise a hundred-rupee rate for something and at the time of final payment, they will say to finalise it by 80 rupees. Then he realized that he is not going in the right direction.
He said that, “at the end of 1999, I was already 29 years of age and I realized that I di’t have a lot of exposure or expertise. My bank balance was already minus. Forget about zero or being in plus. That is when I decided to stop the small little consultancy I had and joined Jayant Tipnis Consultants Pvt Ltd as a designer. I worked there for a year and again, got a realization that, this is not something I want to do because they were doing a lot of bank interiors then. So, at that time we used to do twelve or 15 branches, for all the government banks. But there was too much paperwork. I mean, every project would go on for six months and we would end up doing three or four box files of communication for every bank. So, I said, this is not the interior that I want to be in. There has to be something different and something bigger and much faster that happens in the market.”
That is when he joined Niteen Parulekar Architect Pvt Limited as a director and worked there for almost about seven years. He saw the company grow from 35 to 120 by the end of 2006-2007. Later he moved on and joined Concept Architects as a partner and worked for a year. From there he went to Anj Turnkey Projects Pvt Ltd as a CEO. He worked in ANJ for three years and was the one who started design build.
He said that the entrepreneurship bug was not allowing him to sit quietly even at the age of 40. When he was in ANJ, he realized that he has gained enough knowledge and context to start something on his own again. That is when he plunged again into consultancy. He started with a small form of three. From there, in the last thirteen years now, Alhad has done about 95 lakh square feet of office space and is currently doing about 15-16 lakh square feet of work. And they are also doing architectural work to the tune of about ten lakh square feet. And the team has grown from three to 40. At the moment, they have offices in Mumbai and Pune and have a representative in Bengaluru.
Alhad shared his core philosophies that have paved the way for his success. One of the principles he has always upheld is being modest and truthful, both toward his job and the client. He highlighted that if you adhere to these two principles and work hard, success will come naturally. And once success follows, money will follow. He said that he had never believed in running after money and success and then, screwing up the project. Alhad had never failed to make sure that the project is a success. And then, automatically name fame, money, and all that follows.
The second philosophy of his is something which he has learned over the years. A lot of newcomers, when they come into the profession say that the client is God. Alhad, on the other hand, cautioned against treating your clients as though they were Gods since doing so would mean sort of ignoring their mistakes. Clients are humans and they are also susceptible to mistakes. So, he considers them as good humans and relates with them at a human level. He also added to not take whatever they say as something coming from God and then you will do justice to the project. At the end of the project, if your customer becomes your friend, that is the best certificate for a project. Because then the project has gone well, which means you are sure to get repeat work from the customer.
“There are a couple of things that we have implemented in Beyond Design. One among them is to reply to emails within 24 hours. If we are in the service industry, we need to understand that and we can’t just keep mum on any issue. As far as possible, replying in 24 hours is something we have been practising because we have to respect the other person’s time and effort too. So that’s something that we always do. The second is that we have grown this habit and culture internally to accept the mistake in front of customers and never hide it. Our customers or our clients are such that they have done multiple offices till now. Although they are not technical enough, they know what is happening and where things are going wrong, whether the architect is goofing up or the vendor is goofing up or the consultant is goofing up. They kind of get a whiff of what is happening. So never say that, I did not make any mistake or try to cover it. If you made a mistake, accept it. Say that this was a mistake. This is how I want to overcome the mistake. The third thing is that we are always open to client ideas because some of the best projects and the best creativity happen because you are open to listening to the client’s craziest ideas. Sometimes it clicks as a wonderful idea. Therefore, listen to all the nuances of the clients so that you can be as creative as possible and satisfy the client’s requirements.” To be continued>>