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Friday Feature: Shelley

Oct 01, 2010


Who are you and what do you do? I am the first Canadian born (Calgary) in our family who emigrated from Scotland. I live in Squamish with my partner, Ernie, and 2 dogs. I am an intern architect.

What made you decide to go into your field? It was a matter of finding what seemed to be the right fit…and came down to a choice between music and architecture. I had a Fine Arts degree but Architecture had the potential of satisfying my urge to sculpt spaces that have a positive impact on people in their daily lives… and it appeared to embody other interests of mine as well.

What did your family think of your chosen field? Mixed. My father was a physician who saw architecture as art (not good) and thought it was something I should do ‘on the side’! His opinion changed over time.

Who is the teacher who had the most influence on you and why? I think the most memorable one was my grade 4/5 teacher. While she was big on discipline, she had a big heart and brought creativity and music to the classroom, and got our classroom connected with one in Australia. We would send tapes back and forth of music, readings etc. We learned to knit [something resembling] squares for a quilt we donated to the red cross. She was inspiring in how she got us working together and connected with strangers. She also had a great sense of humour.

What was the biggest hurdle you faced along your educational path? (academic, financial, motivational, family or peer pressure, outside distraction, etc.) My biggest hurdle was finding confidence to present my ideas and avoiding the cinnamon buns at Yum Yums.

What inspires you? Beauty, music, travel, great architecture, good stories, going on wilderness adventures, good company, belly laughs, being on the water in some form and really good food!

What schooling is required for success in your career? A degree in Architecture, and perseverance to get through registration exams.

What kind of people are the most successful in your field? Are there any specific attributes? Depends how you define success. I see successful architects being those who demonstrate innovation, are inspiring, team people, good leaders and listeners, have a good sense of humour, among other attributes!

What is the best advice you were ever given? It comes from a quote by Goethe.. in which (in short), he says that it’s not until one is fully committed that providence moves…

Is your field growing? (ie. is there room for new entries and is there career growth?) So long as people need places, buildings age, a community’s needs change and there are people with a commitment and passion, there is room for new entries.

What advice would you give someone considering a career like yours?
Go for it! You never know what doors will open up for you.