The managing director and founding partner of the civil and structural engineering studio reflects on his journey through more than 30 years in the industry

Chetan - Build

Why did you choose construction as a career?

Construction chose me. From a very young age I loved putting things together and taking them apart. A growing interest in architecture, mechanics, graphics and technical drawing at school, led me to working in a drawing office.

My first job was with a structural engineering company that worked on some major buildings in London including The Ritz hotel. I was surrounded by some incredible people, who trusted me and challenged me, and – as they say – the rest is history.

What have you worked on that you are most proud of?

The three projects that stand out for me are the Walkie Talkie with Rafael Viñoly Architects, Walmer Yard with Peter Salter and The Passage in Victoria with BGY.

Walkie Talkie

20 Fenchurch Street, aka the Walkie Talkie, designed with Rafael Viñoly Architects 

What has been your biggest career challenge to date?

Career challenges have changed throughout my three-plus decades of working in the industry. The most challenging, exciting and rewarding has been to establish Parmarbrook over the past 11 years. It has been an amazing journey with an incredible team and clients.

If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be?

Untethered collaboration across the board. Collaboration has got better over the years in our industry, but more is required.

I would like to add one more: if you have the passion to go for it, you should have the opportunity to break the glass ceilings! it is not dependant on gender, race or environment.

Most helpful advice you were given?

Anything that is worth having in life is never easy. Stay focused and be light on your feet, ready to adapt.

What single piece of advice would you give to someone just starting out in your profession?

Every person or every encounter you have in your career teaches you something. Never stop learning.

Who do you most admire in the construction industry?

There are so many wonderful people, many are my friends and have supported me over the years. I admire those who are passionate, those who break glass ceilings, empower others and put others first. You know who you are!

Lloyds shutterstock 1

Source: Shutterstock

The Lloyd’s building by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners in the City of London

Which is your favourite building in the world?

The Lloyd’s building by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners

Which famous building do you wish yo had worked on?

Gardens by the Bay in Singapore by Wilkinson Eyre

Which famous building do you most dislike?

That’s a tough question, I think sloppy design and lack of creative thinking… those are the buildings I dislike.

What’s it like being you?

I’m a positive person, I really enjoy supporting people to unlock their potential. I don’t stop learning, reading, listening and wanting to understand.

What do you think your best quality is?

I see the best in everyone.

Gardens by the bay Singapore

Source: Shutterstock

Wilkinson Eyre designed the cooled conservatory complex at Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay. They are among the largest climate-controlled glasshouses in the world, covering an area in excess of 20,000m²

What trait do you most dislike in yourself? And in other people?

I dislike losing time and not making the most of each moment. I’m also my own worst critic. A very good friend in the industry said to me, “you need to be kind to yourself”. That was great advice!

Do you have a life philosophy?

We are here to make a difference – to our families, friends, at work, what we design and to each person we meet.

Name three things that you like

Laughing, learning, creative inspiration

What’s a secret skill we don’t know you have?

I love singing…

What’s your most prized possession?

My family, my friends and faith. 

Early bird or night owl?

Definitely a night owl.

What’s your favourite food?

Italian food

What would your superpower be?

The power to unlock people’s best qualities. I’d also love to fly, even though I’m afraid of heights.