COMPROMISES STYMIE ONE’S GROWTH
“It is important to be focused and create a career path. There are no short cuts to hard work. Honesty and integrity builds a strong character that is the backbone of a successful career.” Sonali Bhagwati, President, Designplus Architecture
How have you maintained synergies between professional and personal life?
Balancing home and work life is a tight rope walk. One learns to multitask mentally as well as physically, however there isn’t a minute when one is not guilty of neglecting one or the other. I have the advantage of coming from an extremely emancipated family who believed in women empowerment. We grew up with the inherent knowledge that we needed to create our career path and fend for ourselves as our inheritance was our education and values. I have treated my firm as my first born.
What are some of the career achievements that are close to your heart?
Every successful project is an achievement. What I enjoy most is the learning from every project. The role of an architect has changed from a master builder to a conductor of a philharmonic as the project’s realisation depends on coordinated inputs of multiple agencies.
My dream project is to fix my city. Lack of design at micro level has led to chaos and seriously endangered the pedestrian. My career achievement would be to bring the pedestrian back into a safe and inclusive urban realm.
What are the general perceptions about women in your field of career and how have you handled them?
When I started practicing in 1986, , one of my clients for whom I was doing a home, made it amply clear that he would prefer my partner Sohrab to take over the project. He made my life miserable with fault-finding and accusations. Finding all the inner strength I stuck on and worked hard to complete the project which received a great deal of appreciation and accolades on completion. A lot has changed since then, but a woman still needs to work much harder than a man to prove her worth. Problems and perceptions will always be there, we need to be strong and hold our own.
Architects create built environments within private domains. The land between these islands of private domains, is the public domain which has essentially become marked by filth and chaos. I aim to transform the public domain into a safe, clean and inclusive space.