Caroline Donaghue is a Director at one of the world's leading architectural visualisation companies. Caroline took some time out to talk to The Industry Leaders about why she loves real estate and how she hopes for a more diverse industry in the future.
How did you end up sitting where you are today?
I was always obsessed with design and creativity from an early age. I started my career at a brand agency, who specialised in Real Estate and were originally part of Saatchi & Saatchi. I stayed with the agency for 18 years, working on some incredible real estate projects across the world, and I got hooked on property very early on! The experience I gained over those years was exceptional – travelling a lot internationally and working with so many different cultures.
In 2019 I joined the Board at V1 - one of the leading architectural visualisation companies in the world. I had known the team for around 10 years, working closely as creative partners across many projects, and I was a huge fan of their work, so it was a natural fit for me. I'm passionate about the difference they make to the success of a development, and it gave me a fresh new challenge in the industry I love.
What kind of work does your role involve?
I use my knowledge of the real estate market and understanding of what commercially drives developers to communicate projects visually through CGI and immersive virtual experiences.
It can be as simple as reviewing a project and giving clients ideas on how best to bring the development to life. I find that so many developers want ideas but don't always know what to ask for. This is where we can strategically and creatively look at a development and advise on the visualisation aspect yet with a more strategic hat. I can also be found chatting to an agency on how we can help enhance their assets for digital marketing.
I usually spend a lot of time in meetings, travelling and at various industry events or forums.
What, or who inspires you?
It's the people in our industry that always inspire me. I'm amazed by what can be achieved purely by human imagination and passion. Surround yourself with people that inspire you and learn from them. Their passion will be infectious!
I also love to go to places that inspire me. The energy you feel from one place to another can completely change depending on the design, the ambience and the people.
How do you keep up to speed with what's happening in your industry?
I'm a firm believer that you only really know what's happening by speaking to people! I find that keeping in regular contact with connections, friends and colleagues in the industry is by far the best way to keep up to speed and stay ahead. You will always hear the latest news, emerging trends, experienced predictions and valued opinions by speaking to people. I am fortunate to have a fantastic network, the majority of whom are industry leaders, and there's no better place to hear about the future than from them! Publications are great for key news and facts but, to stay ahead, speak to people.
What was the most challenging project or situation you've overcome?
The most challenging situations always come down to client deadlines! I remember one particular, very high profile development that we were creating the international launch for a few years ago. What seemed impossible at the time was achieved with incredible results. But it wasn't without its sacrifices - I don't think the team slept for around 4 months!
How you deal and negotiate with clients is an art form, and working with nice people from the start will always help achieve better results. In this instance, the client was amazing - very appreciative and supportive, which really motivated the entire team to want to deliver the best for them.
I love the "Time, Quality, Price Theory" - if you want high quality, its almost always impossible to deliver in little time with a low budget. You can only ever have two of the three.
You finish work today and step outside the office to find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?
First I would travel! There's so much of the world I want to see and so many places to experience. And then would buy a villa and stay in my favourite place! Having lived in London all my life, I can guarantee it would be on a beachfront somewhere hot! I would also help my family and friends.
On the business side, I would invest and develop my own property portfolio - something I'd absolutely love to do.
I would also donate and work with a charity that I'm currently involved with, helping young women and underprivileged children get a better start in life.
How do you switch off after a day at work?
I love yoga, meditation, dance, being in nature and have a natural pull towards water - whether it's the sea, the river or a lake. Good food, good wine and good conversation with family and friends are also high on the list.
If you had one wish for the future of your industry, what would it be?
I wish the real estate industry would open up to more diversity at senior levels. We thrive and learn from people of all ages, cultures and different backgrounds. It's slowly getting there but still has a long way to go.
What book or podcast should everyone know about?
A great book that I mentioned above is Mindset by Dr Carol S Dweck. This really changes how you think and approach everything in life.
I also love podcasts, and I'm a huge fan of the School of Greatness by Lewis Howes. He interviews such a diverse range of thought leaders and game-changers. Whatever you're currently focussing on in life, you will find some insightful conversations and interviews that you can listen to and learn from.
How should people connect with you?
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