Stuart Campbell is the Director and the Principal Architect at CKDS Architecture. He leads the firm’s Newcastle office which employs fifteen people.
Passionate about architecture and design, Stuart has extensive experience in the design of residential, educational and commercial projects. In fact, Stuart has played an instrumental role in Newcastle’s city centre revitalisation through the design leadership of three large-scale, key, commercial and residential projects.
Newcastle raised, Stuart has worked for other prominent Newcastle architecture firms in Newcastle and in Europe.
- What makes a good leader?
Look, a good leader – there’s many books on the subject, there’s lots of literature on it – but for me I think a good leader is someone who can empower their team to be the best they can be.
So, I’ve found through leading your own teams if people are empowered, they have a vision to follow – that really makes a good leader. I think that’s probably the most important thing – empowering your team to be the best they can be.
- What has shaped your leadership style?
Well, I think it’s a leadership style… I don’t necessarily subscribe to a particular style, but I’ve found that it has changed as I’ve grown over the years. So, ultimately after all of that I’d say if you’re yourself and you’re genuine in what you do and you’re invested in a project – that’s probably the most important thing.
But through the years in university, your formative years of your education – you learn a lot about yourself and what you’re capable of, then working in a practice you get exposure to other leaders and how they inspire their own team.
And then as we’ve grown as our own practice, I’ve found I’ve adapted and evolved over time as well. So, from a team of three to a team of thirty, it’s quite different. Adapting and growing over time and learning by experience is definitely I think what has shaped how I approach leadership.
- What’s important in leading architecture projects?
An architectural project starts quite small in terms of the team that you’d be leading, and then it snowballs as the project progresses. So, at the outset it’s quite intimate, so that’s the architectural team it might be big or small with a client generally, and then through the documentation phase you’re bringing consultants, you’re bringing on builders, and then on-site you’re dealing with builders and contractors as well.
So I found in the architectural project in particular it’s understanding who comes to the fore as you moved through each of those phases. Within the design phase you’re looking at who’s working on the design, who’s got strengths at different particular sections, so that’s within your own team.
When the client input comes into it, how educated the client is and how much they bring to the table is also really important. And then moving through, consultant input, I guess just getting people balanced in terms of the various aspirations for a project. And the builders on-site and subcontractors.
All of that is so important, and that’s all about getting the end result. And I think if you can really balance out all of those interests as you move through the whole project – that’s when you get a really good project.
- What’s good about doing business in the Hunter?
There’s loads of great things about doing business in the Hunter. I’d say the number one thing is the really strong tight network that you work within.
So I found over the years we’ve forged good friendships with clients and consultants, and you really get a good understanding of the capabilities of particularly consultants and you can assemble a team like that, a really strong team. I think that’s probably the key thing.
The other thing is working in the Hunter we work on projects that are dynamic, they’re interesting, they’re complex – we don’t compromise, there’s no real compromise on the quality of the project and I think that’s construction and architecture, but it’s also other industries as well, like all the people who are in legal and accounting, all those – there’s no real compromise in terms of the quality of work that you’re working upon.
You can do that in the Hunter and why not live five minutes from work, and surf at lunch – it’s just great. There’s lots of really great aspects to working in the Hunter.
- Which local business person do you find inspiring?
So we’ve got great clients who we work with, many of whom I find inspirational.
If I had to pick a local business or business people that I find inspiring I’d have to say is the Earp Brothers team. And the reason for that I guess it’s varied, so the first is there are six generations, it’s a six-generation family business, which is I think in itself amazing.
They’ve been going 100 and … over 130 years, and you can see that businesses evolved and changed over time. And even iconic buildings that you see around the city – Menken’s building in Newcastle East was originally an Earp brothers building, so there’s a legacy there in the built form that we as architects we then become part of that story.
But I think also just seeing the way that that business can evolve and adapt over time is just amazing. And the people who work in it, so Richard and Joshua who are kind of part of the leadership team at the moment at Earp brothers, themselves are great people and inspirational, and you can tell that they inspire their own team and people. You can tell it just it’s clear that people love working for them. And the business is current and relevant and growing still. So I have to say those guys.