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MARCH 2021

As part of International Women’s Day, we’re taking the opportunity to celebrate the achievements of the women in our practice. Every day is a great day to celebrate the women around us, but IWD2021 gives us an extra reason to do so.

We’d like to acknowledge all of the incredible women at Bickerton Masters. From registered architects to interior designers, administrative team members, principals, associates and our General Manager – we wouldn’t be who we are without each and every one of you and the way you individually live out this year’s theme of #choosetochallenge. Thank you for the passion, enthusiasm and commitment you show each and every day.

After working as a chemical engineer for 11 years and becoming a mum to three children, Amanda Loughman returned to study architecture. “Architecture was something I was always interested in and seemed like the natural next step after a career in engineering,” says Amanda. With three children, university life looked a little different than the first time around. But she dedicated time to her studies in the evenings, pursuing her newfound passion as she graduated with her Masters in 2016.

Perhaps the most challenging part was when she first started work in an architectural practice. “After working as an engineer for so long, you know what the job involves, what is required and what to do next. When entering a new profession, you feel like you’re back at the beginning and have to learn everything again. But the best part of my decision to pursue architecture has been the people I’ve met and the conversations I’ve had. My advice to anyone considering a change in their career is to talk to as many people as you can to learn about the career you aspire to.” If there’s one take away from Amanda’s story, it’s that determination and passion are all that’s needed to take the first steps towards your dream career.

A message from Senlina Mayer, one of our architectural students in Brisbane:

To the women in architecture, in tertiary education, in community, in government – we thank you for your tenacity and hard work which have allowed for students like myself to speak, work and think as I can today. As a member of the Bickerton Masters Brisbane team, a representative of SONA, and student of architecture, I am privileged to study and work alongside female leaders and champions of the agency that design has for an equitable future. I am inspired by the vast body of resources, advice and insight that women and platforms of advocacy have provided and look forward to the trajectory of what current and future architects can contribute to the rich fabric of architectural and human history.

By Choosing to Challenge, I implore young designers and women in all fields of study to harness their strengths and spheres of influence as opportunities to contribute to this revolutionary social epoch.

As an Associate and a shareholder at BM_, Arijana is a passionate advocate for women in architecture. She is probably the most “international woman” on the BM_ team. Beginning with her studies and work in Serbia and Germany, Arijana and her husband moved to Cyprus, then down to New Zealand (where they welcomed their two sons) before moving to Brisbane, Australia. Architecture has been a constant – a highlight was helping rebuild Christchurch, following the devastating earthquakes. She is also honest about the pressures of juggling work with commitments at home with the family.

“What helped me during my career was my ability to see beyond the obvious and to recognise connections between things that are usually unseen,” said Arijana. “For that reason, I never stepped back from a challenge when I knew there was a solution. I have applied that principle to architecture, my private life and people – I encourage everyone to look for that little ‘special’ inside of you.” Arijana has faced many challenges to get to where she is today, but her willingness to share her experience and knowledge is helping foster the next generation of women in architecture – and this makes her a BM_ international woman worth celebrating!

Joining the BM_ team in 1997, Lois Smith was one of the company’s very first employees. Towards the start of Lois’ career as an architect, women represented only 25% of architectural employees and only 9% of shared owners in architectural businesses. Today, Lois is a Principal and a shareholder, and has played an integral part of shaping the BM_ culture and the success of the business.

Among the many important roles that she plays in our office, Lois is our in-house expert for designing for early learning and innovative pedagogies. She is also the go-to person for any curly contract administration questions or government funding applications and procedures. Recently, whilst on (much deserved) long service leave, Lois spent the time setting up a business in handmade polymer clay, felting and quirky jewellery (@scheldtam.lks). The creativity and success of Lois’ most recent enterprise is a testament to the inventive and innovative skillset that she adds to the BM_ team.

I feel privileged to have been in a role at BM_ where I have not only seen change and growth, but been part of it. My role as General Manager of a dynamic, creative and growing architecture practice is one that I’m proud of. Here’s three things I’ve learned in my journey so far:

1. Be courageous and seize opportunities. I began my journey here when it was a small family company, working half a day week in accounts. Over time, the role increased until I was offered the GM position. I didn’t know what that looked like. There was no job description – I made the job my own, and still am! I’m now in a position where I can offer opportunities to the next generation, which they’ve taken hold of and also made their own.
2. It’s ok to be vulnerable. I couldn’t do what I do without the support of people around me or the trust of others. They need to know who I am.
3. Everyone’s important and brings something to the team. There’s a saying “it takes a community to raise a child”. I believe it also takes a community to create, build, and encourage. Community is the best place to flourish.

I’m lucky to get to see and experience the difference we make in others’ lives when we use our skills, experience and personalities to create.