BUILDING & ENGINEERING | Krisana Gallezo-Estaura, Singapore

Get to know one of Singapore’s power women in the local architecture scene

DP Architects' new CEO Angelene Chan shared her plans.

Singapore's largest architecture firm DP Architects was off to a new start this year as it recently saw the appointment of a new CEO and the only female CEO within Singapore’s top 5 largest architectural firms, Angelene Chan. As part of the firm’s international expansion strategy, in line with a global push for the firm’s 50th anniversary next year, Ms Chan is spearheading the Mariner’s Quarter James Cook and Marco Polo Buildings, a proposed set of two apartment towers to be developed by Oxley Holdings Limited and Ballymore, on the last phase of their vibrant Royal Wharf master plan in London.

Singapore Business Review caught up with Angelene to talk about her future plans for DP Architects.

1. What makes you excited about your new position?

This appointment is an opportunity to build on the legacy of DP’s culture, values and design excellence. DP will be celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2017; DP50 is a milestone year and I am excited to help drive the firm into our next 50 years. As CEO, my primary focus is to elevate the standards of design and service for our 15 global offices to a world-class level. I am also enthusiastic about the new initiatives to develop our people, our most important asset, to enhance their capabilities and confidence in their work, and improve their professional well-being, so that collectively we can continue to improve the built environment.

2. What three goals are you focused on?

Firstly, the continued vertical integration of our architecture and related services – adding lighting and façade design specialities as well as strengthening engineering and landscape services within our group of companies – in order to streamline and optimise the design and delivery of our services to our clients. As projects become more complicated with tighter timeframes, fully integrated design services offer for a more efficient delivery. This would also enable DP to provide a more straightforward contractual relationship for clients, and is especially relevant to overseas clients who may have difficulties procuring the right consultancy services for the various specialised requirements.

I am also focused on evolving the various areas of specialisation that is seeing increased demand worldwide – healthcare, infrastructure, interior design and master planning – so that clients can recognise that we are able to serve them proficiently in these distinct areas of expertise. Clients can trust that their projects will be delivered by architects who are experienced and knowledgeable in these fields.

3. What are your key business philosophies?

I believe that through enhancing and empowering our greatest asset, our people, DP can scale new heights. By providing structured, suitable and ongoing training and development for staff across all aspects of our work, we ensure that our people are constantly developing high levels of skills, knowledge, and productivity. This hard-skill training has to be complemented by the development of softer skills and core values.

DP has a system, already in place for many years, to ensure projects are delivered to the requirements and expectations of our clients. But in business, it is important to build on and improve a system that has proved successful, and make it more robust and fail-proof for the future growth and change.

The workplace is becoming more technology-driven, and I believe it is important for the architecture and construction sector to adopt new ways of working to boost productivity. I am interested in further improving drafting software technology usage in the office to improve efficiency. This can be done by investing in IT infrastructure and ensuring our staff are updated with the latest technical skills.

4. What previous positions prepared you for this one and how?

Every project I have undertaken over the years, no matter big or small, has been a valuable experience, and has prepared me for what came next. I have the good fortune of working on huge projects that involved complex and extensive planning, numerous consultant firms and a large number of personnel. The knowledge and experience gained from these mega, multifarious projects have been useful in leading a large organisation like DP with many subsidiaries and overseas offices. The lessons learned in running a project can be applied to the running of a firm. But I find that even the smallest projects have given me insights on how things should be managed and how to do things better.

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