Sohie, 37, is an associate director at Arup

What has been the hardest challenge you have faced to get to where you are now?

The biggest challenge thus far and definitely a steep personal learning curve in many different ways, was setting up Arup Interchange Design, for Arup within Arup South Africa. Three years ago I was invited by Arup to go South Africa and explore the market and design business opportunities in South Africa. I left London, where I was based for many years and started with a small unit of two people, myself included, which now has grown to 25 in three years. We have built an ongoing portfolio of strategic projects and established ourselves within a different cultural and business context.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?

I see myself as one of the new wave of creative practices that can provide innovative approaches and strategic solutions which result ultimately in design that fully engages and provides answers to our rapidly changing world, its complexities and the challenges that it will bring in the next decade and beyond.

I believe that multi-disciplinary development, entrepreneurship, the idea of craft and manufacturing as well as a strong sense for cultural identity and context will be key to the development of this initiative.

Where do you see the construction industry going in the next year, three years and decade?

The global community faces significant challenges, balanced as it is between the demands of a rapidly urbanising built environment, an energy crisis and the consequences of growing poverty levels, basic shelter shortages and water demands. On the other hand it is a period of exciting opportunities arising out of a context of globalisation with changing cultural contexts, leapfrog technology, infinite communication streams and new emerging markets.

What has been your career high point so far?

A career high point can be defined in many ways but if I consider it from the perspective of personally most rewarding, than it has to be my time as site resident architect for the construction of the Druk White Lotus School in the Indian Himalayas of Ladakh.

And the low point?

A career in architecture is never an easy ride however the architectural conception and making can be very rewarding and exhilarating. The biggest challenge is not to be overtaken and be absorbed by systems, politics, rules and conventions but keep the resilience, belief and focus on what really matters; which is architectural creation.

Who is your hero?  (This can be either industry or non industry related)

Although I am inspired by the work of many architects, I never believed in the superhero-master architect category. I am very fortunate to have had mentor-friends at various stages of my career; to challenge and enrich my work, to provide guidance during the more challenging times and to celebrate the success. I guess these are my real “heroes”.

If you could take one thing with you to a desert island, what would it be?

A kite; to be closer to the stars and provide me a feeling of uncontrolled escape and freedom.