Joining Woods Bagot’s Brisbane studio as executive chair, Kirsti Simpson brings an extraordinary breadth of experience. She speaks with Gillian Serisier about the recent move.
June 27th, 2022
Joining Woods Bagot’s Brisbane studio as executive chair, Kirsti Simpson brings an extraordinary breadth of experience. Indeed, her most recent role was as partner at HASSELL, where she has honed her skills for the past 25 years.
Attracting her to the role, and in keeping with her field of expertise, is Woods Bagot’s commitment to building and reinvigorating its workplace team, as Simpson explains: “The notion of joining the team that is growing and maturing with genuine strength and incredible talent is very attractive.”
Compounding this is Simpson’s flair for commercial architecture and workplace design and what she envisages as a corresponding period of growth and city definition in Brisbane: “Kirsti will work closely with Woods Bagot associate principal, David Lee, as they embark on a period of tremendous growth in the Queensland market ahead of the 2032 Brisbane Olympic Games, as well as growing the cultural foundation of the Brisbane Studio and team” says Nik Karalis, Woods Bagot CEO.
Renowned for her “passion for design” and ability to produce “really fabulous work”, Kirsti’s talent is underpinned by an exceedingly sharp business acumen that allows her to forge and support the relationships needed to make this level of work viable.
Moreover, the Woods Bagot team was a strong inducement to the role: “I saw a role that was both more local and more global. At a local level, David Lee and I worked very closely on 80 Ann Street (Brisbane), a new commercial tower that has just recently been completed. And it’s a really wonderful example of what is possible in this subtropical climate, which is an interesting point to define,” says Simpson, who worked on HASSELL’s interior fit out for 80 Ann Street’s anchor tenant Suncorp.
Simpson’s new role as studio executive chair is both outward and inward facing, involving the cultivating of both clients and culture at the Brisbane Studio. “My role is to develop deep client relationships, to leverage the most fabulous workplaces, and to work alongside what is a very talented team and nurture their talent and provide opportunities for them,” she says.
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Importantly, her role is also connected to the global Woods Bagot suite of 17 studios, which Simpson views as key to the way Woods Bagot performs: “Connectivity is terribly important, and a real benefit to this practice in this location, the business more broadly, and of course, the connectivity amongst our people and our clients.”
In this model, globally, every studio has access to every other studio’s expertise, whether it’s working on a project in a different location, or simply having access to the greatest minds in the business. As such, whether it is an airport project or commercial tower delivery, the studio has direct access to a counterpart with first-hand experience that can be called on to collaborate or advise. Or, as Simpson says: “There may well be access to some significant and important innovation that could be shared across projects.”
Personable, exceptionally talented and highly regarded in the industry, Simpson will no doubt usher the Brisbane studio and Brisbane city into the future.
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