Happy International Women’s Day from RSP

Today, we celebrate the invaluable contributions of our women. From architects and engineers, project managers and even supporting departments such as HR and Marketing, women play a vital role in shaping our cities and communities.

Their creativity, expertise, and dedication are instrumental in driving innovation and progress. This year, we asked unique questions to 11 women from RSP global on their personal experiences, inspirations and the challenges they face in their own professions.

Q: How do you believe your presence positively influences your environment at work?

"A female marketing manager brings balance in both company culture and client engagement within male-dominated field, including heightened sense of cultural, effective communication and active atmosphere."

Q: What do you think are some overlooked challenges that women face in the construction industry, and what can be done to address them?

"The construction industry is heavily male dominated and so as a female in the industry it can be quite daunting attending site meetings with consultants/contractors. Especially in the early years of my career, it could be particularly intimidating and so it's taken years to build the confidence to ensure my voice is heard in these situations. A solution to this would be to ensure all consultants/contactors address women during meetings as they would any other gender, with respect and listening to their valuable knowledge."

Q: What inspired you to pursue a career in architecture, and how did you navigate any challenges or barriers you encountered along the way?

"I've observed that architects are generally held in high regard. Furthermore, I am fond of architecture because the role of an architectural designer helps to shape the built environment. Some of the challenges I've faced is trying to learn to be very good at defending my opinions at work. I overcame this through my desire to build something useful that benefits the community who uses it."

Q: What unique contributions do women make in the field of architecture?

"When women participate in the field of architecture, they not only bring diversity and creativity but also open up new opportunities for the advancement and progress of the industry."

Q: The concept of “imposter syndrome” is widespread, particularly among women. Have you ever experienced imposter syndrome in your career, and how have you managed it? What advice would you give to other women facing similar feelings of self-doubt?

"Imposter syndrome is a common obstacle, especially among female executives, entwining a sense of inadequacy and self-doubt into their professional journeys. Like many, I've grappled with these feelings myself, finding solace in knowing I'm not alone. The journey to overcoming it began with acknowledging its prevalence and reminding myself that even the most successful people have faced similar doubts. I tried to celebrate every achievement, no matter its size, and leaned on the support of those I trust. Embracing the truth that perfection is a myth, I set realistic goals for myself. Speaking openly about these challenges not only dismantles the stigma but also normalizes the emotions tied to them. Most importantly, I learned to view failures not as setbacks but as invaluable lessons, each one sculpting me into a stronger, more capable individual."

Q: In what ways do you think the industry can be more inclusive to women?

"Residing in Dubai for 16 years as an architect and raising three children, I believe the industry can enhance inclusivity for women through several key measures. Firstly, establishing mentorship programs that connect experienced professionals with emerging female talents can provide guidance, support, and opportunities for skill development. Additionally, implementing flexible work arrangements can accommodate the unique needs of women in balancing their professional and family responsibilities, fostering a more inclusive and supportive work environment."

Q: How does being a woman in architecture influence you?

"As a woman in architecture, I see every challenge as an opportunity to redefine norms and create spaces that reflect inclusivity and diversity."

Q: What advice would you give to young women aspiring to enter your field, particularly those interested in pursuing international opportunities?

"Entering the field of master planning for young women, especially with an interest in international opportunities, can be both rewarding and challenging. I'd recommend building a strong foundation in urban design, sustainability, and analytical thinking as Master Planners require competency to navigate complex relationship between tangible and intangible aspects of design. Network with professionals in the industry, seek mentorship, and stay updated on global urban development trends. Embrace diverse perspectives and be adaptable, as international opportunities often require understanding and respecting varied cultural contexts. Continuous learning and a passion for creating livable, sustainable spaces will set you on a fulfilling path in your urban planning journey."

Q: Which female figure inspired your professional career?

"As cliché as it may sound, my mom has been, and will always be my biggest inspiration. My mom is gentle but firm, kind but tenacious. She’s intelligent, compassionate, and has a very good moral compass. Qualities that I try to embody as a person and as an HR professional. I deal with challenging and tricky situations every day, and it is easy to lose confidence whenever I feel like I didn’t do enough, or I made the wrong decision. But through all these challenges, I am always reminded of my mom and her advice – do not avoid it, go through it, learn from it, and come out of the other side better and stronger."

Q: How do you build confidence to lead in a male-dominated industry?

"Know your worth – Recognize your unique value and never downplay the strengths you bring to the table. Cultivate supportive relationships – Surround yourself with colleagues who recognize and value your abilities, and distance yourself from negativity and individuals who undermine your confidence. Embrace challenges – While new opportunities may seem intimidating, they also offer avenues for growth and development."

Q: What does it mean to be a woman working in the built industry?

"In the vibrant tapestry of the construction industry, being a woman strengthen our perseverance as we navigate and overcome challenges. Collaborating with like-minded individuals from different walks of life, we weave creativity and problem-solving into the very fabric of architecture. I am grateful that design journey as a woman is celebrated for its empathy, highlighting our strength rather than perceiving it as weakness to give meaning to architecture, foster connections and impacting lives.”

Continuing the spirit of celebrating IWD this month, our five female leaders in Dubai, Karen Trinio (HR and Operations), Raneem Qaddoura (Architecture), Joan Usero (Master Planning), Zoe Casey and Melden Batalla (Interior Design) were recently featured on Commercial Interior Design’s (CID) ‘How female leadership is driving the success of RSP Dubai’s office‘. Karen was also featured in CID’s ‘Women of Impact: 20 Women making waves in the Middle East Design Industry‘, focusing on her role as Head of HR in RSP Dubai with 18 years of experience in the field.

At our HQ in Singapore, Laney Low was featured in Committee on Young Architects’ (ACYA), an initiative by Asian Young Architects and Singapore Institute of Architect’s Young Architects League.