22 January 2018
22 January 2018
"Mentoring at all levels" - Karl Fender of Fender Katsalidis
What Employers Want - World Architecture Festival, Berlin 2017
What CV advice would you give a candidate?
Well obviously, the CV is very important, and the first thing I look at as a potential employer is the graphic content. If it’s well ordered, beautifully and thoughtfully presented, it will engage me and it will show me you care about design basically. And I think also, within the CV the candidate needs to be very clear about their job role in all the projects that they’re showing. Quite often, people come in and show you all of these projects, as though they were the chief person in all roles. Obviously they’re not, so they’ve got to have an honesty about what their involvement was and what their responsibilities were.
What helps a candidate stand out?
Most CV’sare laborious. Keep the content tight. Don’t ramble on. And definitely don’t try to take credit for other people’s drawings. I want to cut straight to what someone is interested in doing and what they are good at doing. Honesty, clarity and brevity.
What’s your take on a personal statement at the top of the CV?
[It can work] if it’s an inventive and artful statement, then I start to think this is someone who’s got a sensitivity and is really worth listening to.
What makes a good first impression?
Well obviously, the person themselves. If a candidate for a job comes in and they are clear, articulate, with a reasonable amount of confidence, then I think “this is a person that first of all can represent our practice to clients. The way they dress is important. I think they should dress as they would dress as if they were coming to the office. It’s part of their culture, and so you look at them thinking, will this person fit into the culture of our practice. It might be far left field, but it still is a cultural statement and it’s very interesting to see that.
What type of portfolio do you prefer to receive?
By all means digital. I think it’s good to be speaking to images particularly if the office can put the portfolio up on the wall and they can talk to it. In a way it’s like a little presentation. Or even on their computer, just swivel it round and show you. I can’t tell you the number of times someone’s come in with their USB and it’s not compatible, it doesn’t quite work, they start fiddling around ‘my god this was working yesterday now it’s not’, sweat comes out. I think always always have a hard copy,which can circulate quite easily among the directors of an office. I still draw, I love paper and pens, I love hard copy so maybe I’m a little biased.
What questions should people ask?
A candidate, on their own behalf and for their own interest, should be asking ‘what sort of role can I play in this practice? How do I fit in with the team, what are the chains of command, how do I work with the people around me, what is the mentoring in the office like,’ all of the cultural questions about whether that candidate actually really wants to be in your practice. The worst question a candidate can ask is ‘do you pay overtime?’ Cultural self-interest is good, fiscal self-interest at that point of an interview, no.
If you could offer one piece of advice what would it be?
A message to myself at the very commencement of my career would be ‘don’t think you know it all just because you’ve come out of school’. My advice to any student is try to get holiday work in an office. Understand the office environment. Look at what the people around you are doing. I was fortunate enough to start in the office of Robin Boyd, one of the great architects of Australia. I thought I knew quite a lot and one of the first things Robin said to me was ‘you don’t draw so well’. That challenge really made me rise to the occasion. I stood next to some of the great draftsmen in that office and just watched. I think the balance between a philosophical ideal education, the freedom of education, combined with the rigor and real demands of an office, are a very important blend.
What is your design ethos in 3 words?
Enquiring. Collaboration. Design.
How would you describe your office culture?
The culture in our office is quite profound. We’ve become quite a large practice. And when you become a large practice you can tend to corporatize and get officious. You can get party politics. The wonderful thing about our practice is that it started as studio and even though it’s now quite large, it still operates like a studio. So the quality of mentoring and team work in our office is very high, everyone looks out for each other, and covers each other, and no-one is left to feel exposed. You have to instill in all team members, whether they’re a director or a junior, a sense that there’s always another person to back you up and give you advice because their experience covers it. So I think mentoring at all levels is really important.
Author: Kat Allenby, Global Head of Communications, Bespoke Careers