The year 2020, like everybody else, posed a serious challenge, to put it mildly, in this woman’s life. As if a global pandemic wasn’t enough, being a resident of New Delhi, she had to go through extreme civil unrest coupled with economic unrest which combined led to immense difficulties for both her and her family. Read the interesting journey of this woman from chaos to peace at SURFACES REPORTER (SR). This story is a part of SR's campaign in association with WADE ASIA where we invited women in Design to share their inspiring stories from 2020.
Meet Khushboo Madaan
Khushboo is through and through a New Delhi architect who completed her schooling from DAV Model Town before moving to BPS Women University, Asia’s largest Women’s University, to complete her degree and diploma in architecture. She then completed a Bachelors in Technology specializing in civil engineering from DCRUST University. She has worked for Indian Railways, L&T and Dams of India. She was involved in the projects of Dak Pather Barrage and Tehri Dam. She founded her own firm Design & Build back in 2016 and currently works there in the capacity of both Founder and Creative Director.
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The onset of 2020 and a flurry of realizations
The year 2020, like everybody else, posed a serious challenge, to put it mildly, in Khushboo’s life. As if a global pandemic wasn’t enough, being a resident of New Delhi, she had to go through extreme civil unrest coupled with economic unrest which combined led to immense difficulties for both her and her family. But these hard times brought along some much-needed realizations too.
She says, “This year has helped so many of us understand the importance of ‘home’ and what it means to have a safe place. Not only do our homes need to shelter us, but they should also bring us joy.”
Stick to the process
One of Khushboo’s major takeaway from 2020 was her reincarnated faith in the process. She found that deviation from her design process always led her and her client to arrive at a dead end with no idea on how to move forward. This led to intense scrambling on her and her firm’s part to get the project back on track and running. This led her to design a step-by-step process that works well for her firm to ensure that her sanity and productivity were not taken to the cleaners by every project her firm undertook. She put down the process that she created on a spreadsheet and now follows that religiously to ensure the absence of any deviation notwithstanding the size of the project.
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As an architect, Khushboo realized that to unlock her true potential, she has to be self-motivating and open to new ideas and ways of working. As a designer she was accustomed to having in-person meetings, be it in construction sites, while communicating her designs or while meeting with vendors. But the last year made her more adaptable regarding having meetings online through Zoom and sharing her designs through digital platforms.
Being flexible leads to increased stability
The age-old saying ‘Be firm in your decisions but flexible in your approach.’ found newfound relevance in Khushboo’s life over these perilous times. During the so-called ‘normal’ times, flexibility and adaptability played a key role in her and her firm’s business. But the Covid-19 protocols led them to find new ways of keeping busy, relevant and productive. This included keeping her team in tune and in contact while constantly improving on their preparations and planning for virtual client meetings. Throughout all these, being flexible has been the cornerstone for her in moving forward. And she realized that technology is fallible too – and some problems would occur due to technical malfunctioning. Her solution to this was to keep a sense of humor while diffusing the situation.
Being virtually connected
Various on-the-spot adjustments were required last year to ensure the smooth running of the business. Prioritizing the safety and security of the team, client and industry partners was of paramount importance during these times. Being connected to everybody online and keeping everyone in the loop proved to be majorly beneficial in conducting the business smoothly. By keeping honest and thoughtful communication with her clients, she and her firm managed to continue designing on the foundation of trust they built. After working and collaborating remotely, they shifted the entire process online. In this way, they managed to produce breathtaking work even when they were not able to meet everyone in person.
Always have a backup plan
Perhaps the most vital lesson imparted by 2020 was to always have a backup plan ready. And foremost of these backup plans should be financial preparedness. Ever since their advent they have been big believers in saving up for a rainy day. By following a rigid policy regarding this, they had a supportive cushion to break the fall of 2020. This situation only reinforced their belief of always having a backup plan handy. Aside from being uber planners, they also emphasize proactive thinking, flexibility and adaptability. Their mantra is, ‘Make a backup plan and a backup plan for your backup plan.’
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Peace of mind
2020, despite all the hardships that it brought along, also did Khushboo and her firm a sea of good in the form of imparting valuable life lessons and realizations. The biggest lesson probably was allowing themselves grace. Despite being initially overwhelmed, they took a step back and refreshed themselves to work again with renewed vigor which was rewarded with happy clients and beautiful designs. According to Khushboo, the events that transpired in 2020 will shape their business moving forward and embolden with the belief that no obstacle is too big if they work together as a team.
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