Following a short summer break we’re back with our Feature Friday interview series!
To celebrate the recent launch of our new WOD Italy chapter, this week we had the pleasure of talking with Elena Caregnato – Design Principal at Unispace, Milan.
WOD: Thanks for joining us! Why don’t we kick things with you telling us about your background and how you became involved with the workspace sector…
EC: “I am Italian and I live in Monza, a nice city far only 15 km from Milan where our Unispace office is located. I have studied Architecture at Politecnico di Milano and after my master degree I have attended a one year master in interior design at Scuola Politecnica di Design, in Milan.
Since my last year of university I have voted my education studied the work environment and its evolution and during the Master I have further improved my background on this topic.
Before joining Unispace I have worked 8 years in Progetto CMR where mainly I have followed Office design projects.”
WOD: And could you expand on your current role at Unispace for us?
EC: “I am Design Principal for Italy and I am responsible for all the related activities starting from the strategy, through the feasibility study the concept and the design development.
It is a very dynamic job because is not only meeting Clients and understand their needs and their vision for a new workplace, but it is also attending site surveys, visiting showrooms for materials and furniture and working with a super skilled and amazing team of people.”
WOD: What does a typical working day for you look like?
EC:“We have a meeting scheduled every day at 9 with the Principals of all the other disciplines (technical, PM and delivery), it allows us to have a clear view of the deliverables and the outcomes to be produced day by day. Then I normally meet and work side by side with my team, I attend Clients’ weekly meeting for ongoing projects or I meet with new Clients for possible opportunities. When we have time we love to visit showrooms or host in our studio suppliers for seeing new products/materials.”
WOD: If you could offer any advice for someone that wants to succeed in a role similar to yours, what would it be?
EC: “Every day is a new journey and every day I learn something new. This is because of my curiosity and the passion for my work. Do not fall in love of your project, is not only your project but something to build together with a Client who may need to change something according his different point of view. Everything is possible and there are always different solutions for achieving a great result. Critics, changes, comments are always very important and more than welcome, do not forget to ask for them, they will help your professional growth.”
WOD: In your opinion, what is our industry doing currently to positively impact the careers of women? And what can be done better?
EC: “I am super proud to work for a company where diversity and inclusion are very important values. Here we are now all free to decide if to work from home or in the office and as mother of 2 little children it is very important for me and gives a great flexibility.
I feel respected, included and my point of view is always taken into consideration.
Companies should invest more in valuable women: we have a long term view, the ability to work simultaneously on different tasks and the sensitive to deal with other people.
There are a lot of sectors where we are still not considered on the same level of man.
I want to believe it is just a legacy of the past, in companies where a traditional organization remains and where changes are struggling to be implemented.”