Interview with Sandra Hinchey, director and registered architect

Describe your role?

We work in teams and currently I have three graduates and one architectural student on my team.  We manage a number of projects ranging in size and scope as well as being at different stages – from sketch design to construction.  As a Director I am involved in all facets of the business including operations, finance, marketing and human resources.

How did your career path lead you here?

I studied Architecture in Newcastle and my first position was at a small firm in Sydney during my year off Uni between 3rd and 4th year.  I met my now husband during Uni and his being in the RAAF meant we moved to different parts of Australia including Brisbane, Townsville and Perth.  Fortunately I found work in all locations and progressed my career from working on small toilet blocks to being Project Architect on a $25M University building. When we were notified that my husband would be getting transferred to Williamtown, I got back in touch with Jon Webber, who I went to Uni with, and he suggested we work together.

What do you like about your job?

I love liaising with all of the different people who become involved in a project including clients, stakeholders, engineers, planners, project managers and local authorities, just to name a few.  I enjoy the intricacies of establishing what is needed in a project and who needs to be involved in order to obtain the best outcome.

What are some challenges you face in your job?

The challenges also happen to be one of the things I enjoy, that is, liaising with the various parties involved in a project.  There is also the personal challenge which any working person faces of maintaining a good work / life balance.

Who depends on you and whom do you depend on?

All relationships in architecture have an element of co-dependency.  Our clients depend on us to provide well thought out designs and we depend on them to entrust us with their projects.  I depend on my team to help design and document great spaces, and they depend on me to provide advice and assistance when needed.  We depend on consultants to provide input in a timely manner and they depend on us to provide them work.  We also have a senior management team who are supportive of one another.

Describe life outside work?

My husband and I spend most of our time enjoying time with our two primary school aged children who are involved in numerous activities such as netball, tennis, music, golf and touch football.  I am a member of the P&C at their school and try to fit in some time for myself to catch up with friends and exercise.

What’s on the horizon for you?

In July I am attending the Learning Environments Australasia conference in Singapore – an exceptionally important and exciting opportunity to meet with and learn from others involved in education planning.  We have recently started the design of a new school for the Catholic Schools Office which I am looking forward to being involved in.  A couple of our projects are also about to commence construction and it is always exciting to get to that stage in a project