Conversations with Ryan Collins, Design Manager

Who or what first inspired you to study Architecture?

At School, I excelled in Art & Math. I grew up in Northern Ireland, where the construction industry is strong. Back then, the prominent career paths were Doctor, Lawyer or Architect; it was a no brainer for me.

How long have you been with Binah?

I started with Binah in Feb 2020, right at the start of Covid. It was a little daunting facing all that uncertainty, but a testament to the Binah team, who stood firm as the pandemic swept through.


Do you have a preferred construction sector?

I’ve worked globally in Commercial, Aged Care, Education and Retail, but a huge portion of my experience is in Residential. I enjoy that space, I am well versed in the laws, regulations & construction procedures. It also allows my creative skills to be challenged.

How has the industry changed over the years?

When I was at Uni, we were taught using drawing boards, and now you can use 3D modelling and do VR walkthroughs of apartments. Some software allows you the ability to realise the projected running cost of a building and how much, for example, lighting, air conditioning etc, will cost for the next 10, 15, 20 years.

In 2019 we saw the much-needed appointment of a Building Commissioner. The industry needed an overhaul to bring back confidence to investors and first home buyers. I have seen the positive flow-on effect from dealing with Certifiers, Architects, and Consultants.

It’s been a welcome change towards removing developers & builders that were there to make a quick dollar without any consideration of the end-users.


How do we keep our standards high to consistently deliver a quality product?

There are a few ways we can do this:

  • Aligning ourselves with qualified consultants and subcontractors, keeping at the forefront and being seen to be welcoming of whatever is being implemented by the Building Commissioner.
  • By going above and beyond the minimal requirements and regulations.
  • By understanding and educating clients that the cheapest is not always going to be best and could cause more problems down the track.

What are some of the challenges you typically face with each project? 

There can be lengthy authority approval processes in Australia, particularly in NSW. We are very much across these processes, but it can be frustrating for the client.

We address this through education and taking the client on the journey. Good communication and transparency is always the best approach. We help them to understand why these processes are needed.

 

 

In your role as Design Manager, you wear many hats. What are your best ways to stay organised?

I like to have a notebook for each project to take into every meeting. Each book has different design information depending on the project, but ultimately, they are all producing the same outcome. I read the books every week to stay on top of what is urgent. Through my experience, I have learned what items are going to take longer, so I try to prioritise these so the project can run as smoothly as possible.

 


What’s the most satisfying part of your role?

I like the fast pace and diversity of my role. I am in constant communication with an incredible cross-section of people: The Fire Brigade, Council, Site teams, Sales Reps, Consultant, Certifiers. Essentially, everyone that’s involved in a project cycle. 

I like to have that connection with them. I will call them up for a chat to find out what they are working on, what’s new in their space and if there is anything I should be thinking about on current and future projects. I love having a network of people to learn from and to continually evolve my practices.

There’s a lot to coordinate and sometimes it seems overwhelming but I enjoy that challenge. I like when all the consultants are in a room together and I’m using my creative brain. I like to suggest ideas and ask questions. There’s no such thing as a dumb question, and more often than not, that one question or idea triggers something that evolves into the solution.  

What do you admire most about working with the Binah team?

There are no egos at Binah. There’s no feeling of a hierarchy, and everyone pulls their weight.

Amen and Khalil are always happy, upbeat, and optimistic. They put their people first.

Staff are very important to them. They don’t just employ people based on having a great resume. 

They employ people who are going to be a good fit for the company as well. You’re welcomed for who you are as a person, not what your resume says. Then you quickly become part of the Binah family.


Do you have a favourite book you often recommend to others?

I read all day at work, emails, reports, legislation, standards etc., so I tend to not read much at home. I prefer podcasts in the Design and Construction space. I enjoy Ted Talks as it’s an effective medium for accurate easy-to-digest information. 

I can also listen to them on my drive to and from the office.

If you could take a year off, what type of project would you donate your skillset to?

I’d love to build schools or accommodation for people in need, be part of a team of designers or project managers that collectively can make a significant impact by creating structures that we often take for granted.