We talk to Rothelowman’s newest Sydney associate, Nicola Eason about her ascension through the practice across multiple states and studios and her ability as a design leader. 

Tell me about your progression at Rothelowman

I started out as a graduate architect in Brisbane in 2013. After two years I was promoted to a project leader position, and then in January of this year I had the opportunity to join our Sydney studio as a senior project leader before securing the role of associate in the past month.

What was it like working as graduate architect in Brisbane?

I came to Rothelowman because I wanted to work in a hands-on studio and understand more about how the bigger puzzle pieces of design fit together. When I started, the Brisbane team was much smaller – only about 11 or 12 people, and it was the beginning of a significant rush of work in Queensland.

I was so lucky to have the opportunity to join the practice at that time. The Brisbane Principals Jeff Brown and Duncan Betts placed a great deal of trust in me. Because of that, I worked on more projects in my first couple of months at Rothelowman than I did in my first couple of years at another firm. It was incredible to be part of a studio that has now more than tripled in size since I started there!

What are the most important lessons you’ve learned at Rothelowman thus far?

I’d have to say understating the importance of communication. Good communication leads to trust, and trust leads to opportunity, so we are always encouraged to ask better questions and communicate more effectively in our teams.

Secondly, Rothelowman considers the commerciality of a project right from the outset. The way we run our offices and projects strikes the balance of creativity and passion, grounded in a fiscally sound approach. I’m really interested in the business and practicality that comes with that and it’s great to learn about it. We’ll always design something the client can afford, because we want to see our designs built.

What are you most looking forward to about your new role as associate in Sydney?

Having greater involvement with clients at the front end of a project, and seeing our younger team members grow in their profession. I’ve worked with a couple of grads over the course of a project and seeing them build confidence with clients and new ways of designing is so rewarding.

What do you see as the greatest opportunity for architecture today?

It’s the value add that we can give to the clients and people who use our projects. This is where we really hit our stride. We see the breadth of architecture, so our ability to bring the sum of our experience across multiple types, studios and states to bear on a given project gives us the edge to deliver increasingly intelligent designs.

What advice would you give to a student or graduate today?

Go somewhere with a great culture, where there’s opportunity to move. Go to a firm where people know your name and where the volume of work that gets built ensures you have greater opportunity to learn.

At Rothelowman, our work is fast paced. It’s hands on, and it means our students and grads get to work across several projects each week.