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Up-and-Coming ‘Young Guns

July 17, 2017

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Up-and-Coming ‘Young Guns’

The focus at WMK Architecture is business and lifestyle clients. Managing Director Greg Barnett has effectively been the firm’s CEO for 20 years, since the firm’s inception. As winner of the Australian CEO Top 25 and Most Outstanding Architect and Design CEO awards, we interviewed the man at the helm to discover more.

WMK Architecture’s is business and lifestyle clients. This focus results in office buildings, workplace, industrial and education projects in the business sector; and, hotels and retail as well as lifetime care projects in the lifestyle sector.

The firm has grown from a humble team of two to a 90. This has certainly not been linear – as they have dealt with spurts of growth, as well as tough times such as the recession during 2008. They still see themselves as up-and-coming ‘young guns’, and the firm are starting to be recognised amongst the larger tier 1 architecture and interior design companies in Australia.
Managing Director Greg Barnett begins by explaining the firm’s ethos and how it feels for the firm to win the prestigious Australian CEO Top 25 and Most Outstanding Architect and Design CEO awards,

“Our ethos is to improve our client’s outcomes through innovative design and responsive performance. We have won numerous competitions and awards for our work. However, our most cherished award is when our design makes a positive difference for our clients.

“Some of our landmark projects include the multi award winning Blackmores Campus, the 17-storey Quay residential mixeduse development, the innovative and sustainable NBCS school, the world-class Sargood resort for people with spinal injuries, the Pullman Sydney Airport hotel; and the Barangaroo Headland underground multi-event space.

“It demonstrates that WMK is at the leading edge of innovation and performance and are getting some recognition for this. I think it will communicate that not only are we innovative in our design, we are also a well-structured and successful.”
Greg then tells us more about his work as a CEO and what this involves, including for example his successes, methods and achievements. He also reveals what he believes are the main attributes of any CEO.

“My role is primarily about strategy and motivating and mentoring a quality team to execute our strategies and ultimately succeed; more like a head coach.

“We have great self-motivated people, a flat management structure, and a consultative approach. Our methods are a combination of sophisticated matrix systems, a lot of dialogue and buy-in; and, an all-in team attitude to get the job done.

“The main attributes of any CEO are strategy and leadership, combined with empathy and clear communication skills. On one hand - you need to crystal ball the market and the future - and on the other you need to be aware of our people, their needs, and how we are going with our projects.”

Greg the steers the conversation to focus on his most significant achievements from the past year, as the CEO of WMK Architecture.

“I think my achievements as the CEO of WMK Architecture are measured by our firm’s achievements. Over the last year, we have won significant
competitions including a 320-apartment residential mixeduse development in Sydney and a ‘New York Loft’ style hotel in the same city.

“We have won numerous awards, including the Australian Institute of Architects sustainable architecture awards; and we were shortlisted in the Asia Pacific INDE. Awards and longlisted in the global WAN Awards.

“We have grown by 36% during the last year and have attracted international talent to join our highly capable team. We have relocated our Brisbane offices, to larger premises and secured new space in Victoria, to accommodate our growth.”

Greg then highlights his career journey before coming a CEO and explains how he attained his current position. He also tells us what the best things are about being a CEO.

“WMK Architecture started when I joined forces with Andrea Ehlers, who ran Watermark Design as a sole practitioner. The firm has evolved and grown since those humble beginnings to our team of 90 today, with Andrea at the beginning, I have effectively been CEO from our start in 1996. Launching out on my own with Andrea, was effectively how I ‘did it my own way’ and, hopefully, better.

“My greatest joy in being a CEO is watching the success and growth of the firm and our people. It is very satisfying to see the visions and strategies come to life and, in the main, be successful.”

As a CEO, Greg offers his concluding thoughts for his hopes and plans for 2017 and beyond, plus what the firm has planned for the coming months.

“We have huge potential and a bright future. For 2017, we see consolidation of our recent growth and in our more traditional work sectors where we are better known. On the other hand, we also see the potential for new opportunities and growth with new talent coming on board.

“In the coming months, we will re-cut our five-year vision and finalise our 2017-2018 business plans. We will relocate our Melbourne office to new larger premises and consolidate our Sydney and Brisbane offices.

“We recently welcomed Mat Dalby – a global hotel expert from London – and we will introduce him to the Australian market and look to overseas opportunities. Dr Donna Wheatley – an esteemed workplace strategist – will join us and we will be look to bolster our workplace design skills accordingly.”

Company: WMK Architecture

Name: Greg Barnett

Email: wmk@wmkarchitecture.com

Web Address: wmkarchitecture.com

Address: Level 1, 346-348 Kent Street, Sydney 2000 Australia

Telephone: 61 2 9299 0401

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