Throughout our lives, we’re likely to hold a number of different positions at various different companies – some, we’ll enjoy more than others. Charlie Avara, Managing Director of All Done Design shares how she went from what she thought was her dream job, to a role that she enjoys waking up to every day.
1. Tell me about yourself and career at All Done?
After landing what I thought was my dream job working in TV in the USA I soon realised that it was leaving me unfulfilled and that it was time for a complete step change in my career.
A friend suggested that being a Project Manager for a renovations company might just be the perfect fit and undeterred by the prospect of rebooting my career, I decided to get stuck in and was soon offered a role.
When it was time to return home to London, I started working for All Done Design, a leading design and build company, and I’m now overseeing the day-to-day running of the business.
2. What do you love most about your role?
My job encompasses all the aspects of my ‘perfect job’ that I set out to define back in my early 30’s.
I am in and out of the office, its project based, its challenging, fulfilling and no two days are the same. In fact, there are so many aspects of my job that I adore, it makes me feel grateful every single day. Having worked in a role that made me unhappy, I appreciate that getting to wake up and enjoy going to work is a blessing.
I also thrive on the human aspect of the job, getting to work with supremely talented tradespeople and craftsmen and oversee projects as they bring them to life is remarkable. I’ve built up a book of contacts that means that my clients can be entirely certain that the work in their property is in the hands of experts.
We love exceeding client expectations and time after time the client is left with overwhelming feelings of happiness, relief, and gratitude and that is such a reward for us.
3. What does a typical day look like to you?
There is no such thing as a typical day - which is another reason I love the job so much. Every project we work on is different, the client’s needs and requirements are unique, and this is what shapes my days.
Usually I wake between 6-6:30am and primarily have to meet the needs of my family. I tend to start off my days by going to all the sites we are working on - some projects are more demanding than others.
At any time, one of the team might call me to discuss an issue, or a problem that needs addressing. It is vital for me to be flexible with my time so that I can meet the needs of the team and our clients.
As a business we could be working on up to 12 projects at any one time, but they will all be at very different stages. For some, we might just be kicking off with the design phase, others might be in the final snagging stage, or anywhere in between. Not only this, but the size and the complexity of these projects will also vary from a complete refurbishment to a small bathroom make-over.
I aim to finish work between 5-6pm, depending on the needs of my family. One of my top tips is to finish each day by planning your to-do list for the following day. This helps me to be flexible and balance the needs of my family, team, and clients.
4. What has your greatest career success been to date?
All Done Design is considered an industry leader, regularly featuring in media outlets to provide comments and expertise. Whether it is national newspapers, trade, or consumer titles we have become recognised in the industry covering important topics as wide ranging as project overviews, industry news and women in the construction sector.
Over the years I have grown All Done Design into a business that works tirelessly for clients. I always take the time to get to know clients and in turn become a trusted consultant with a reputation for bringing clients visions to fruition. This has led to All Done Design being trusted time and again to deliver works for clients and very often being recommended to friends and family of their clients.
For me, there is no greater endorsement than to be given repeat business or to be recommended to a client’s nearest and dearest – it is the ultimate symbol of trust. In some cases, All Done Design has become known as the ‘family’s builder’.
5. What has your greatest career challenge been, and how have you overcome this?
The challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic was felt in millions of different ways the world over. For All Done Design, as with much of the construction sector, it was a period of uncertainty. Clients were looking to us for answers, that in many cases we didn't yet have due to the circumstances. The pandemic not only led to materials shortages and price rises, but as the experts, All Done Design’s clients looked to us to find ways to lessen the impact of this, keep their projects on track and ensure their safety whilst working in their homes.
Today the impact of rising costs has become even more acute. This means that the project management aspect of the business has had to evolve rapidly to include an advisory role that helps client’s budgets work. This includes tips such as buying materials, kitchens, bathroom suites ahead of time and storing them where possible. I am now using my experience and strategic thinking to safeguard clients from rapid price hikes as much as possible.
6. What advice would you like to have given to your younger self?
There are so many pieces of advice that I would like to give to my younger self. These would be my top 5:
· First and foremost, to trust your instinct and be true to yourself
· Don’t be scared to take risks – after all my career started with a leap of faith
· Allow every failure or negative experience to become an opportunity to learn and grow
· Not to be frustrated if you’re not doing exactly what you want to do in life – especially when you’re young
· If you’re stuck in a situation that is unsatisfactory, either personally or professionally, then find the power to make a change
Crafting a career isn’t instant or linear. You might need to chop and change; you might need to overcome obstacles on your journey, but it is important not to be passive. Be brave, take risks, learn, grow and before you know it, you’ll have created the perfect role for yourself.