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TREND GROUP specialises in office interior design and refurbishments in the commercial, industrial and retail sectors. spoke to Trend Group Senior Designer Dorethe Swiegers about her personal and professional journey thus far.


What does the role of Senior Designer at Trend Group mean to you?


As part of the design team at Trend Group, I’m responsible for the creation of concepts and implementation that surpass our clients’ expectations. The key to the success of each project is our understanding of our clients. We always say one size does not fit all, therefore understanding their vision, aspirations and objectives is critical, combined with our design strategies that originate from creativity and innovation. As Senior Designer, I personally ensure objectives and standards are met during the entire process, from inception to occupation.


You have had several professional achievements. Please list them, and indicate which one stands out for you, and why?


I’ve been involved in various exciting projects, mainly in the commercial design sector, both national and internationally acclaimed. I’ve successfully managed projects spanning from 200 m2 to 5 000 m2. The one that stands out for me may be less noteworthy, but to me it is personally invaluable, and manifests in a reference letter received from my previous managing director, commending my work ethic and enthusiastic attitude, which are key to the delivery of pitch-winning presentations and creative solutions.


Have you had any particular challenges as a woman professional that you think differ from your male counterparts? How have you tackled them?


Honestly, not many. I think the industry diversified very quickly and well over the past decade. The commendable generation of woman preceding me has busted the stereotype. Here and there I’ll have to address the odd condescending comment, but I have the capabilities and expertise to instill confidence in my ability.


What advice do you have for younger professionals who are looking forward to joining the profession?


Your career is an extension of your lifestyle; make sure you love what you do. Notwithstanding, there is always something to find and learn in any job. Be prepared to look at the unusual opportunities. People invest in people. Bringing passion and a great attitude to the table will ensure success. Be courageous; have the ability to act in spite of fear. It is better to jump and make a mistake than to sit there too afraid to make a move.


How do you take part in mentorship, if you do?


This is a tough question. I’m still so young in my career that I am still being mentored, rather than mentoring. I have so much to learn, but I guess I always will. At this stage, mentorship means ‘watch and learn’. I practice what I preach, being more interested in setting a precedent by doing what I do, and engaging with people in informal interactions to create leaning opportunities.


What has been the highlight of your career?


I started my professional career in London, and after working there for four years, the highlight was to return home, which has been rewarding in every aspect of my professional development. I love working in South Africa. There are so many unusual opportunities here that foster unique ways of working. Being challenged by the economy of the business climate makes for creativity that is innovative and not adopted.


What principles and values do you think are important for any professional, and why?


Inspire, motivate, encourage and enthuse,

Adapting to change rapidly and skillfully,

Be proactive, not reactive, and keep moving forward

The key is to cultivate a sustainable career and make an invaluable attribute to the team.


Explain what contribution you have made to your current company since joining it?


After returning from London, where I worked for one of the largest and most established design-and-build firms, I brought my skills and expertise to the local market since joining the company in May 2018. I’ve worked alongside the team to add value and formalise a key framework structuring the process, both strategic and tactical, tailored to the South African business climate. We have together developed multiple elements, from system development to design output, that sets us apart from others in our field. We endeavour to be market leaders, and the team is contributing to craft this unique culture where innovation thrives.


Who stands out for you as a role model, and why?


There is always something to find and learn from anyone who crosses your path. Everything that happens to me, and everyone I know, can teach me something. I make it my prerogative to learn from, and find something to admire in, every person I interact with. I make myself open to learning in an unconventional way, and to become inspired by those around me. Every person I meet knows something I don’t; circumstances such as being my superior or peer is irrelevant.


Where do you want your career to be in ten years’ time?


Anywhere that my drive and ambition take me. I don’t want to narrow down the opportunities that might cross my path. I’m an idealist, and I don’t sit still planning. I’ll see what comes next and, if it is going to be exciting, then I’ll leap. I trust that my professional career will develop in line. The best things that have happened to me thus far have just come along. I’m not passive in that sense because I’m open, scanning the horizon, and if I see something, I will go for it.


What is your management and leadership philosophy?


To have an intrinsic and sustained desire to learn. Curiosity and an open mind are the forerunners to creativity and innovation, and are critical to thrive and be part of a successful team. Stay focused, and keep the objective in sight all the time. Cultivate the movers and the shakers to move forward but, more importantly, collaborate to generate ideas and creativity.


What are you passionate about/keeps you awake at night/makes you tick?


I’m a bit of a hustler, so any new and exciting challenge that drives creativity and innovation. I love working in the construction industry. The dynamics of the turnkey business excite me. I believe it is more adaptable model than the traditional consultancy. The impact is fast-paced, and more reactive to change and quick delivery. There is a thrill in seeing a project realised in six weeks, being involved in the implementation, ensuring quality and managing the client’s expectations throughout.


Do you think your organisation is a great company to work for? If so, please elaborate in detail what makes it different from others in its field?


Absolutely. At Trend Group we love working together to ensure service excellence. We pride ourselves on making every client we work with feel special and intrinsically involved in our process. We love being a part of the story of how their company grew: Whether it be a 15-person team growing to 50, 50 growing to 200, or a company with the same number of staff but maximising how they use their space by making people work in a more efficient way. We love happy clients, so much so that we go the extra mile for our clients. Without our clients, we would all be whistling in the dark. Moreover, Trend Group is more than just a company. We are a family. We are a close-knit group that loves spending time together, in and out of the office. It is always an adventure, and it is exciting.


Where can people follow you online?


People can look me up on LinkedIn, and follow Trend Group on LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook. Here you will see all the exciting thing we are busy with.


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