People are at the heart of DesignInc and we couldn’t be prouder of the DesignInc team and what we have achieved this year.

DesignInc had a very successful 2019, which translated into significant growth of the core team. We started 2019 with a team of 64, and finish the year with a very talented, skilled and experienced team of 101. As part of that growth, we are delighted to promote Cathryn Drew-Bredin and Mary Anne McGirr to director positions in the Transport department. Cathryn oversees the Aviation team, and Mary Anne oversees the Rail and Roads teams.

L-R : Megan Walker, Mary Anne McGirr, Cathryn Drew-Bredin and Lynne Hancock

We also have six new Principals at DesignInc. Lynne Hancock (Principal Urban Designer), Steven Holmes (Principal – Landscape) and Megan Walker (Principal – Transport) are joined by new recruits Lisa King (Principal – Interiors), Nathan de Leeuw (Principal – Aviation) and Matthew Todd (Principal – Education).

Lisa has almost 30 years of experience in interior design, with a particular focus in co-working and activity-based working environments. She has degrees in architecture and interior design, has experience teaching undergraduate students and is mum to three boys and a girl. Nathan has worked extensively in the aviation field, nationally and internationally in New Zealand and Indonesia, and brings a fusion of commercial sensibility and design technology to the DesignInc team. He previously worked with Woodhead, GHDWoodhead, Warren & Mahoney and Gray Puksand. Matthew is an award-winning architect with more than 25 years’ experience in education and public architecture through his role as principal at leading design practices FJMT, HASSELL and most recently, John Wardle Architects.

With the appointment of Cathryn, Mary Anne, Lynne, Megan and Lisa to senior management positions, DesignInc is at the forefront of closing the gender gap in the male-dominated industry. In 2015 we embarked on the journey to increase female representation in the company. Today we have an equal ratio of men and women across all levels of the company, including architects, designers, architecture graduates, architecture students and support staff. We also proactively address and promote this issue across the architecture and construction industries, encouraging other firms to close the gender gap.

DesignInc is also determined to increase representation of Indigenous Australians in architecture. In September we announced the first donor-funded scholarship supporting an Indigenous Australian student in Western Sydney University’s faculty of Architecture. The scholarship, valued at $150,000 ($30,000 per year for five years), will be offered to an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander student enrolled in architecture at UWS from 2020. It will fund their graduate and post-graduate studies, living expenses, and DesignInc will provide work experience and mentorship to assist them into the workforce. The student will receive a paid internship during their studies; and a guaranteed full-time permanent job following graduation.

Greater representation of women and Indigenous Australians is important for architecture and for society, and our drive to change this reflects DesignInc’s collective values of diversity and inclusion. Every year we celebrate the diversity of the DesignInc team, which encompasses 30 different nationalities, with an international food festival on Harmony Day in March. Team members cook and bring in signature dishes from around the world, and we share this wonderful food as well as sharing stories and experiences.

We value our employees’ dedication to DesignInc, but we know they also have other priorities in their lives. This year we officially launched the Flex@DI program to support employees in achieving work/life balance. The personalised approach to working arrangements provides flexibility for team members to tailor their working day to their needs. Whether it’s a morning surf, picking up children from afternoon sport, caring for an elderly parent or teaching at university, the option for part-time hours, flexible hours, job sharing and working from home enables employees to balance their personal and professional lives.


Flex@DI is also beneficial for supporting the mental health and wellbeing of our employees. We know the scale and intensity of projects undertaken by DesignInc can bring stress and pressure to our team, and we actively support their mental health with a holistic program of initiatives and a culture where everyone feels safe and supported to talk about mental health. This includes free mental health skills training with Black Dog Institute; weekly meditation and yoga classes; monthly programs such as 5 Ways to Wellbeing; and the opportunity to take time out for a massage, yoga retreat or check-up with a GP.

Copper, our office dog – a boxer, mastiff, rottweiler and bull terrier cross – is also beneficial for our wellbeing, always bringing a smile to our team members’ faces.

In August we hosted RSPCA Cupcake Day to raise money for helping animals who aren’t as lucky as Copper, and in May we participated in Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea for the Cancer Council.

Our many fit and active employees donned their running shoes for City2Surf in August, and In November, 10 DesignInc employees raised funds by cycling the MS Sydney to the Gong Charity Bike Ride.

Outside of the hard work and fundraising, we also had a lot of fun. We hit Kingpin Bowling in August for some Friday fun, and overdid it on chocolate in our Easter scavenger hunt.

We thank all members of the DesignInc team for a fantastic 2019 and look forward to 2020. From all of us here at DesignInc Sydney, we wish you a joyous holiday season with peace and cheer in the New Year!