Vanessa Cazaubon is a professionally qualified Architectural Technician and was recently named an LSBU Graduate Entrepreneur. She co-founded E+C Associates which offers strategy planning, implementation and training for digitally represented building design.
A previous interior design student, Vanessa is combining her skills with architecture and construction to focus on BIM (Building Information Modelling), a process that involves creating and using an intelligent 3D model to inform and communicate building, infrastructure and utility projects.
E+C Associates are dedicated to delivering innovative designs, and implementing sustainable technology and systems. The firm is especially determined to acknowledge and promote the important work of Architectural Technicians and Technologists.
"The business came through extensive market research and LSBU really helped broaden my understanding of the industry landscape and my prospective clients," remarks Vanessa. "The reasons E+C Associates exists are to support architectural technology and develop sustainable collaboration within the construction industry."
“You’ve got to be able to engage and communicate well. You could have a fantastic business idea, but it will be difficult to succeed if you cannot tell people a unique story.” Having beaten stiff competition to be awarded a place on the Graduate Entrepreneur Scheme, Vanessa knows that a strong pitch can make all the difference when competing for clients and investors.
In addition to being a strong communicator, many entrepreneurs pin their success on being able to shine in a team environment and thrive under pressure: “It’s hard to believe, but my favourite time as a student was probably the most stressful part: revising for exams. I shared information with fellow students and we tested each other. It was actually a great way of making new friends.”
Architectural technology and BIM
Vanessa's time at LSBU allowed her to become fluent in the matters that most affect her areas of business. "As architectural technologists, our job is to support our clients to make the best of technology to design and build in a more streamlined and sustainable way," explains Vanessa. "Collaboration is fundamental to what we do, and for us that means putting BIM at the heart of our projects. To an extent, we are still having to sell it into some of our clients – there can be a tendency to want to guard data and information rather than sharing it freely."
The benefits of BIM are huge: problems can be identified and eradicated at the design stage; errors and inconsistencies are massively reduced; and end users get the information they need to manage the building in the most efficient way possible.
Challenges of a new business
"As a new business, it's important we work on our marketing and communications so I'm heavily involved in that," Vanessa explains when asked about her day-to-day activities. "We're currently setting up a new website - it's crucial because so much of what we do is visual so people need to be impressed from the moment they click on to the page." Another important aspect is making connections and networking; "We want to be influential, we need to create a buzz and find our niche and to do this we need to connect with the right people."
The 'fun part'
Aside from the challenges posed by starting her their own business, Vanessa and her business partner also have to find time to work with clients on specific briefs and projects. "The process involves a lot - from researching precedents for planning, designing layouts and interiors, scheduling and managing relationships with clients." Vanessa has worked on both residential and commercial projects - one of the more challenging was a restaurant, as it involved delivering an experience of the brand through architectural planning and design.
To succeed you've got to be determined,and comfortable with being uncomfortable. I'm always willing to develop new skills and be open-minded for learning.