Sabina Reddy

Director – M Moser Associates (Interview PART-1)

Sabina Reddy, an architect with a decorated career at the forefront of innovation in this industry. She graced us with valuable knowledge and insights into her career that have defined the modern landscape of architecture in India. She started her practice in Delhi, where she worked for a year and then moved abroad to gain more exposure. She was brought up in Delhi, and her parents shifted to Hyderabad where she began to explore her inspiration to become an architect.
She joined a company in Bombay during the early stages of her career, and began working on corporate interiors. A company called RSP took notice of her efforts and got her onboard. She spent ten years evolving with the trends and designs of architecture in various parts of the country. She later joined Moser, as an experienced architect who helped set up their South India office and got into the flow of embracing true leadership.

As we exchanged ideas, Sabina shared some powerful messages for the fraternity and we delved into the brilliant mind that has continued to excel at project quality and impeccable ideation in every level of the industry. She shared her life story with the enthusiasm that inspired us instantly.

A journey into the inspiring world of architecture

“It was in Modern School-Delhi and I was very sure that I wanted to be an architect, so I used to take half the class to visit Architecture College. I was trying to inspire everybody to become architects. You know we used to go to the school of Architecture, a whole lot of us students. Unfortunately, there were very few girls, for the people that wanted to do architectural engineering. There was one section and in that there were only four girls. All the girls otherwise were in Commerce or in some Biology wing or somewhere else. Hence, very few architects came out of it, but I used to take a whole troop to the architecture colleges since the 9th class, every year we would visit. As I began to pursue my ambition, I realized more and more about the industry.

I think the main philosophy was service to the client. How do you give the best possible service? Whether that is speed, or professional expertise or whether that is a cutting-edge design. But how do you deliver professional excellence? I have always approached clients with that approach and I win work and win a lot of trust. The clients know that as far as I am coming there is not trying to take any shortcuts or anything, you know you are trying to achieve the professional best.

I would say technology and collaboration spaces have made the whole process easier. It allows people to get together, it allows people to innovate. So, it is the ability to create these collaborative spaces, as well as the technology that exists inside these collaboration spaces, in which people are able to talk to their colleagues abroad or talk amongst themselves, ideate and create some of the best solutions for the project that they work on.”
Sabina then explored the life of an architect, and how clients were the top priority. She shed light on the importance of understanding the clients, in line with the industry’s best practices. She shared insights on the workflow that has helped her achieve the best results consistently.

Bridging the gap between client and industry

“One of the top challenges I’ve faced is the alignment to get the client to understand the industry. What is the reality of the construction industry in India, and how do we deal with that?

You will have a lot of clients who say you can finish this project in two months, you can finish this project in three months. How do you explain to them that quality, the state of construction and get that alignment so that you are on the same page to deliver the best quality? That is talking from a workwise challenge.

You know for a long time being a woman entrepreneur, I never even thought there is anything as a challenge especially as being a woman. There was a seminar recently where they wanted all the women to get together and they were describing their challenges and I said, you know I never believed there were challenges and I look back. Yes, there were challenges, you have to work, pretty much harder than you have ever to achieve good results. You have to really prove yourself before your bosses saw you in the same light. So, you have to go that extra mile. I think it is the ability to explain to people the on-ground situations, maybe walk them through some things and have that ability to really get them to understand what the industry in India is today. By bringing a project into perspective, we can truly assess and analyse the industry and thus create solutions that will reveal immense satisfaction for a client’s project.”

Her charismatic words were befitting for the rapidly advancing industry that has shaped Sabina into one of the most renowned and decorated architects in the world. She dedicates her achievements in the industry to hard work and perseverance.

(Interview PART-2)

Construction is about being ethically conscious

“I think that one of the things in the construction industry in India that you know we really need to be conscious is ethics. How do we live up to the quality and standards that people are asking for? How do we not take any shortcuts to deliver that? I think ethics for us in the Indian industry play a very big role and that is something that we all possibly need to see. How we can keep up the ethics is very important to every project design and delivery.

It’s a great field. While I talk about all this hard work it has some real pleasure of seeing something that you have worked so hard for, that you have created come together. It is amazing to see the rewards of your hard work unravel right in front of you. It’s a great profession, it’s a very satisfying profession and it helps you explore your creativity. The strange thing is that when you come into this profession you think it is all about creativity and design. I think it’s also a lot about people skills. How do you bring different people, different consultants, different trades, how do you bring people together to create something wonderful? Your people skills, your team building skills. Your maturity of understanding things is also really important, but at the end of the day it’s great to see the final results. It is a good profession to be in and I enjoy every single day.”

The context of Indian architecture

“Being aware of where the industry is going. How it is moving in terms of the latest trends and hence finding the products that are required within the market, depending on the trends is vital. So, what we used ten years back is very different from what we are using now. How they can keep themselves updated is by talking to architects, keeping up with seminars to really understand where that industry is moving. What are the products we can supply that will suit the industry? In our industry and any industry actually, this field of construction around the world has a huge context. Our context is very different to the Chinese and European context. What is the Indian context as of today if you are able to understand that context then you are able to supply the right products at the right price range?

I’ve seen some great contractors, they have a great passion for their work, for detailing and stuff like that. It would be great to see some more of that passion. I know contractors who travel the world to see how construction is happening in different parts of the world. How do you bring that technology and what you have learned? From even going beyond what you are doing in India and how do we bring it back here so that we can improve the quality of construction. In a rapidly globalized society, your originality is important and the way you bring various elements together will determine the success of your endeavour in architecture. Being a strong leader is good, but also having empathy and compassion. Especially during these Covid times. You need to know how to really have that empathy and compassion and balance that but still be a strong leader.” To be continued. >>.