Each one of us has the ability to steal the spotlight to lead by example and inspire others. In fact, one can learn from each story and implement those lessons in our daily life- that’s the beauty of motivation. SURFACES REPORTER (SR) in association with WADE ASIA invited women in Design to share their inspiring stories from 2020. Here, is the engaging story of Chandrika Sahay, the Director and Principal Architect of Meraki Dezine, who has always aspired to use antique and forgotten local Indian design techniques and to bring them to the postmodern era. She is one of the artistic few who dared to use limestone and indigo as construction material for its cooling and mosquito repellent properties. An interesting thought, isn’t it?
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The ‘Green Mind’ At Work
Concerned towards the environment, she has always worked towards ensuring a greener planet and a better future for the generations to come. Along with promoting recycling and composting- she has been interested in sustainable architecture.
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Mahajan Imaging Centre in Gurugram Designed by Chandrika Sahay
Chandrika believes, “In an architecture model that seeks to minimize the negative environmental impact and help the same grow and glow.”
In order to achieve this green mission, her first step was taking a course online on ‘green building and sustainability’ during the pandemic. Being an international certification-the course covered structuring the design process with sustainable intervention from the very inception of the project. She was so delighted that now, she would be able to reconnect with her interests and realigned herself to her aims and goals.
She also took a course on managing finance as an architect. With this, she has become a symbol for what is the ‘perfect architect’ because she believed in looking at every possibility that a space holds while keeping mother earth in mind.
Though, she hadn’t given much attention to the financial aspects of the field even after starting her own business, yet she delved into the business of design with this course. She got success in developing sustainable business strategies for the firm in an upended world.
The Lockdown Effect
As an architect, she was used to dealing with the physical realm. However, it was suddenly inaccessible due to the lockdown and communicating with clients became one of the biggest challenges. Video calls became her best friend in adapting to the circumstances to do business while maintaining social distance at the same time.
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Though, it was really difficult to present and convince clients about projects without the benefit of being in the same room as the client-Video calls came to her rescue and she is till date, thankful for the same.
In fact, the situation got so crazy that she had to choose whether to keep going and continue with all the restrictions and uncertainty or to just pull the switch on operations.
So, she ultimately chose the former with all the issues that come with client communication, employee relations, a lack of support with a family and a lack of physical interaction in projects- She still went on and that is what makes her different from various other professionals.
“It took a lot of willpower.” She adds.
To make things worse- there was a lot of distress faced by the employees and hence, she had to empower and motivate her employees to handle situations that they had not been trained for.
With borders closed, it was impossible for the site manager to be at various projects that crossed state lines and hence, the other employees took over. Kudos to her innovation, she made this decision and guided the employees through the entire process.
Another facet of this was that she was stuck at home with her family and she just couldn’t do her work as efficiently but on the other hand, she got to spend more time with her husband and her two adorable little girls. But, it eventually proved to be draining to have so much extra responsibility.
All the household chores doubled and needed her attention. Food was to be made, and all the needs of the family were to be met- it was pure chaos but being a woman who loved her home and her work- she got through it all and end up proving her capabilities as a fabulous mother, an amazing wife, a great homemaker, an awesome boss and a splendid professional.
The Secret Benefits
Her innovative solution helped her keep her employees occupied.
On top of that, her employees now proved to be an exceptionally talented and well-trained workforce- they were now able to handle multiple fields of work at the same time. This proved to be an unexpected bonus that helped her grow as a manager as well as a business owner.
There were other unforeseen benefits- she had a chance to do something that was previously not possible in her fast-paced life- slow down and take a breath. She had time to experiment in the kitchen and make her own naans, bake several cookies and cakes and spend more time with her beloved family.
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As an added bonus, she was able to reconnect with loved ones near and far, including friends that she hadn’t spoken to in years as nostalgia took over.
She says, “It felt so good to be able to reconnect with everyone.”
She further adds, “The creative world of architecture is rapidly changing and evolving, and it was crucial with my job to keep up with the myriad of new possibilities, techniques, and skills. So, I was able to invest more attention towards that!”
In spite of the adjustments made to her business due to pandemic, she emerged as a successful architect. “I’m thankful for the opportunity to reflect, reconnect and evolve,” Chandrika adds with a smile.
Remember, life will always test you. It’s essential to focus on the possibilities rather than limitations and you might actually end up surprising yourself.
If Chandrika can withstand and survive this, why can't you? Learn from her story and try to grow as you proceed in life because success is always right around the corner and giving up is not a choice.
Keep reading SURFACES REPORTER for more such articles and stories.
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