A strong people-centric leadership philosophy was what enabled Ken Collins, Director of Pynenburg & Collins Architects, to steer his $3 million company through the recent doldrums in the Australasian building industry.
Founded in April 1982, Pynenburg & Collins Architects has since grown under the tutelage of Ken and his two associate directors to become an entrenched player in the architecture scene of Australia and New Zealand.
It is a company that is massive in scope and ambition. Under its main label, Pynenburg & Collins Architects, it services a vast range of niche markets, with projects ranging from commercial, educational and residential facilities to wilderness ventures such as tramping huts and a new base in Antarctica.
Through its associate research-led arm, Lab-works, the company is also at the forefront of the laboratory design industry, as evidenced by the prestigious S-Lab Award the company won in England in June 2013 (Winner: Refurbishment – SCION in Rotorua)
So what has been the story behind Pynenburg & Collins’s recent triumphs?
Ken says the answer is simple - by placing the employees, those most crucial to his company’s growth and success, at the centre of everything they do.
'Our greatest asset is our people,' says Ken, who recognises that working in a service industry naturally demands such a mindset.
'If any of my staff asked me if my legacy was going to be around my work in laboratories and improving research, I’d tell them that they themselves are in fact my legacy. I want to do the best I can for the people.'
His philosophy for good leadership, Ken says, is 'growing myself, my people and my organisation' with the ultimate goal of producing the best results he can for his clients.
It was this core philosophy that helped his company deal with one of its greatest challenges in recent years - hiring and keeping top quality staff in the midst of quiet industry activity.
'Getting high quality staff has been something we've really been focussing on, and I think we've developed a really robust HR system,' he says.
'But it's always going to need a bit of monitoring and improving.'
Ken is also quick to point out that TEC, which he has been a member of since 2010, has played an instrumental role in both his personal development as a leader and the growth of his company.
He claims that the opportunity to share ideas with 'a great cross section of people' at his TEC meetings has proved invaluable in gaining fresh insights into contemporary business issues, even those not directly related to the architecture industry.
'I believe that my TEC experience is typical of all the members that I know,' he says.
'I found the benefits of TEC to be on many levels, firstly the sharing of ideas and experiences across a wide range of professions, also the forums to discuss business issues and self-development.'
Ken also attributed the 'stimulating lessons delivered by guest speakers and the insights and challenges provided by our Chair during meetings and our one-to-one sessions' as some of the highlights of his time with TEC.
'You get back much more than what you put in,' he concludes.