Zhangeldy Kaupynbayev undertook a work placement in Mark Carter’s team in London, keeping a diary of his time at Ryder.
Mary Adeturinmo on Balancing Health and Work
The Part 1 architectural graduate reflects on balancing work life while living with a long term health condition.
Mary Adeturinmo, a Part 1 architectural graduate, completed one month’s work experience with Ryder as part of her plan to pursue a career in architecture, which needs to be managed alongside a long term health condition. Ryder assisted Mary by allowing her to work part time with flexible days, to test the balance between her health commitments and her passion for architecture at her own pace.
Balancing Health and Work
Alongside my continued enthusiasm for healthcare, gaining experience with the architectural practice redesigning parts of my local hospital seemed like the perfect fit. This desire was influenced by the ongoing treatment I was receiving for my long term health condition, sickle cell anaemia. As a patient, I often see a range of hospitals and tend to feel the difference between well thought out design and outdated architecture unfit for modern day.
Through the help of the chairman of my local hospital, I started my experience during the summer holidays – this was great for me as my health is usually a lot better in the summer due to the heat. While my aim was to do my best and learn as much as I could during the time I was with Ryder, I was also hoping to personally find the optimum balance between my work and health.
I was grateful that, even before I had started, my mentors Ruth French and Julie Hutchinson had built a rapport with me that allowed me to come in on my first day feeling relaxed and comfortable. The regular Monday morning meetings allowed me to get up to speed with the different projects that were taking place in the London teams.
I was very impressed with how Ryder encourages the personal development of its people, both through acquiring new skills and improvement of those already existing. I made the most of this by using online training tools, as well as regularly attending meetings. It was extremely refreshing to always have the chance to grow and learn from those with expert knowledge in the built environment. A seminar that stood out for me was on the designing of mental health facilities – learning about the challenges in designing specialist buildings was eye opening.
It was fascinating to work with different architects and designers to see their unique approaches to projects. I was able to understand the diverse spaces designed for numerous users to make work more efficient and, in turn, this made me evaluate how I work in order to convey the message I intended. It was fantastic to hear and see the way architecture can have a positive impact on the designers themselves.
At Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, it was extremely revealing to see the way the team tackled design problems first hand. I really enjoyed being able to see the physical form of the mass and materials used, having previously only seen these in the office. From the bespoke furniture that was designed for the maternity ward to the unique solutions to keep areas sterile, the space felt functional yet creative.
One of the many things that stood out to me is the healthy lifestyle promoted by Ryder. This includes simple things like bowls of fruit, morning yoga, lunch runs and a cycle to work scheme. To see a design practice promote wellbeing whilst designing healthcare facilities gave me hope that this conscious energy can influence design choices.
Personally, I learnt that taking small short breaks during the day and allowing my body to rest had a better overall impact than sitting down for hours, hoping to get work done. Due to fluctuating pain levels, going on site with a crutch was an experience – it felt nerve racking due to the fast paced nature of building sites but I was glad to be able to take in my surroundings with the support of my mentors. It helped me to gauge how far I could push my health / treatment in a real working environment.
I have left Ryder with a more in depth knowledge of healthcare architecture, as well as having a better understanding and appreciation of the ways healthcare professionals use spaces to study and positively impact the future of patient care. I was able to confidently converse with my team leader about the reasonable adjustments I require to stay at my optimum health and my hope is to find the right balance between my health and work life in the built environment. The experience has empowered me to keep pushing forward in working to find ways of designing spaces that positively impact the experience of the end users.
Ruth French, associate at Ryder, said: “I’m really glad Mary was able to undertake this work experience. It was great to see her have a positive impact on the project and that she enjoyed her time at Ryder. I feel this experience has not only aided Mary with professional studies but also helped her understand how she may continue a career in architecture whilst managing her health. We wish Mary all the best with her future career plans.”
A special thanks to the late Steve Hitchens, ex chairman of Whittington Hospital, and to Julie and Ruth who took me under their wing, as well as all the people at Ryder who took the time to share their knowledge and expertise with me.
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