Architecture firm Paragon Group is perhaps “unique in the industry” for employing an equal number of men and women, with the latter ranging from student architects to senior management.
“I love the fact we have so many talented, audacious women in our company in different stages of their careers,” says Paragon Group director Estelle Meiring.
She adds that nurturing young talent is part and parcel of Paragon Group’s DNA.
“We see it as our duty to develop employees and foster their professional growth. Whether they stay for the long haul, or move on after some years, often to open their own practices, we like to think they have had the best opportunity possible to become well-rounded architects or interior designers.”
Paragon candidate senior architectural technologist Mpho Nomnga has a BTech in Architectural Technology and an interest in the technical and business side.
Nomnga adds that seeing the impact of the spaces Paragon creates on the end-users is what keeps her passion for architecture and designs alive. “My personal vision is honestly the main thing that has kept me working.”
Representing the youth is Paragon student architect Caitlin Ho, who has a BSc in Architecture from the University of Pretoria.
“I bring fresh eyes to the teams in which I work. I use my energy to throw myself head first into any task, no matter how mundane it may seem, as everything is an opportunity to learn,” says Ho.
The transition from university to ‘office life’ was an exciting one, Ho points out.
“I have only scratched the surface, but by observing the talented people around me, I am learning more than I could ever have imagined. The design, construction and life skills I am acquiring are unquantifiable.”
This ranges from time management to work ethic as well as design rationale, presentation, construction and industry knowledge. “I am excited to overlay these skills with an academic’s eye and design theory when I return to university.”
Moreover, a top attribute of the Paragon Group for Ho is the company culture, as people are always patient and wholehearted in offering assistance.
“What I enjoy most is the teamwork and spirit that extends beyond the workspace. Personally, it is extremely exciting being able to say I contributed something to a project.
“I can confidently say I have learned exponentially from day one. I have had the chance to work on a number of projects in all sectors – from residential to offices, retail, and storage. This range of experience does not come often or easy for young designers.”
Ho’s message to fellow students contemplating a similar career path is that success is ultimately determined by a willingness to learn and grow.
“Grab each opportunity, no matter how daunting or simple, and ask questions constantly. Listen carefully, be enthusiastic, and work smart and hard. Build yourself and your confidence in both life and work.”
“Understanding that being an architect means improving throughout your career has been a wonderful insight for me . . . I love how my designs and design insights have developed and ripened over time. I am looking forward to seeing where my knowledge and skills will go in the next ten years. That is what keeps me excited and happy and in love with what I do every day,” Meiring adds.
The Paragon Group continues to evolve along with its employees. Paragon is persistently developing and changing as the world shifts around everyone.
The changes that have taken place on a global scale in the last few months have been astounding, says Meiring.
“We are all still trying to come to terms with how things will settle in the longer run. However, I would love to see Paragon play a key role in improving the built environment for human beings – in South Africa, but also internationally – by creating spaces that people can thrive in.”
Paragon delivers commercial architecture, master planning, interior design, and space planning to visionary clients in all property sectors, from retail to residential and education.
“We are committed to global urban development. Paragon is flexible and diverse in its approach to design. Each project is unique and not driven by style, but by lifestyle and a response to user needs.”
She concludes that the company is known for hands-on engagement with all opportunities present in the modern global building industry.
“The true measure of our skill is our ability to engage at all levels and with all players that make up the colourful world of construction and property development.”