Carolina Ferrando graduated in Architecture in 2009-2010 and is currently living in London (UK). Tell us, where are you working now?
I am a project architect at PRP Architects. I am based in the London office. PRP is one of the world’s largest multidisciplinary architectural practices specialising in the residential, specialist housing, mixed use, commercial, retail, healthcare, hotel, education and leisure sectors. The practice has more than 50 Years of history, over 300 people and offices across the world; London, Manchester, China and Moscow.
Which are your professional aims at work?
My aims at work are broadly to have a professional approach towards our clients and co-workers, understand the client’s brief and have excellent presentation skills. Also important is to keep learning about architecture, keep improving my management skills and always do my best to deliver high-quality work.
Which is your last project? And the most important?
Last project: Bessant Drive Kew (Kew Gardens, London).
Role: Project Architect
Design and delivery of the planning application for a residential scheme at Kew Gardens. The project contains four blocks of apartments, a basement level for parking, a doctor surgery and a central courtyard that embraces the four dwellings becoming the heart of the site.
Most Important: Woking PFI (Woking, Surrey).
Role: Project Architect
Design and delivery of the planning application for a Master Plan & dwellings design for a residential development in Woking, Surrey. The scheme contains five blocks of apartments and 310 houses. After planning application was approved, I was responsible for producing the construction packages, liaising with client and engineers on site, developing team strategies to produce all the information required and coordinating the project models (Revit – BIM).
Do you think your academic training at University CEU Cardenal Herrera helped you in your daily work?
The academic training that I received at University was a great starting point laying the foundations of my career. I learnt not only the necessary academic subjects to become a qualified architect but also how important team work is, how to be strong and face criticism and always seek support in those who trust in your skills.
Tell us briefly how is an usual day at your work.
In a typical day at work, the first thing I do is to make myself a coffee and look at my diary to check what the key tasks are that need to be completed by the end of the day. I check and confirm any meetings booked with clients or other consultants and then I brief the team to assign tasks and update the project programme to make sure we are on target for the next deadline. Reply to emails and keep working on other tasks such as designing and drawing.
In general, what is your impression of the studies you did at University CEU Cardenal Herrera?
I believe the studies I did at University CEU Cardenal Herrera were key to help me to become the professional I am today. The subjects taught and the programmes were appropriate and the teachers were highly qualified. One of the main benefits of attending University CEU Cardenal Herrera is the holistic approach to educating students.
Would you recommend University CEU Cardenal Herrera to people with academic interests like your own?
Indeed. I would recommend University CEU Cardenal Herrera to anyone who is interested in studying a degree in one of the most well-known Universities in Spain, in a great atmosphere and with highly skilled teachers. The University also provides a wide range of international studies and internships that will definitely help to develop your career further.
What are your future professional objectives?
My future professional objectives are to progress in the company and become a key member of the senior leadership team. As part of my career progression, I am keen to be stay up to date with any subject related to architecture and attend as many lectures and exhibitions as possible to enrich my knowledge. One wish for the future? To establish my own practice in Spain.
How were your professors like? Did they motivate you to excel in your field of expertise, to reach for more than what might be considered the norm?
The honest truth is that I had all sort of Professors at University. However, it is fair to say that the majority were great and really inspired me. When someone motivates you and encourages you to push your boundaries, it really has a positive effect on your studies. I am grateful to all those teachers who made a difference with their attitude and helped me to keep believing I could achieve my goals.
Do you think University CEU Cardenal Herrera did enough to assist you in developing your talents and skills? Could we have done more in this respect? If so, what more could we have done?
The university assisted me in developing my talents and skills well. If I had to highlight something that, in my opinion, could have been better, it would be the methodology used to teach and correct the subject of projects in the last two years of my degree. I believe most teachers at University CEU Cardenal Herrera are strong proponents of Rational Architecture. Many other universities actively encourage their students to be creative and break the grid. In my view, students should be motivated to explore other architectural styles outside the modular methodology.
Do you miss Spain? Do you plan on returning?
Every day! I miss not only my family, friends, weather, food…but the personality of its people and the life style. When I came to the United Kingdom, I thought I would be back in two years. That was more than five years ago…It is hard to return as the career progression and salaries here are very competitive. I do not think I will return to Spain for good at least not in the next ten years, unless there is a great opportunity for me to join a big firm there or set up my own architectural practice.
Is there anything else you would like to tell?
I would like to give some advice to those students of Architecture and future colleagues: Be strong and learn to face criticism; do not allow anyone to make you believe that you are not good enough. Never give up, at the end it will be worth it. Believe in your capabilities and remember that University is just the beginning of the road. You do not need to be an A student to become a successful professional. And remember…
Life is not what you are given, it is what you create, what you conquer and what you aim to achieve. Your focus will determine your reality.