Krishma Singh-Dear, Product Design Manager, is an exemplary project manager with an intuitive skill to masterfully craft sophisticated interiors and joined the in-house design team in 2015.
She returned to the UK after completing an interior design degree from the Parsons School of Design in New York. Whilst in the US she also interned at the award-winning design firm Yabu Pushelberg alongside her studies. Prior to moving into the design sector, she spent more than four years successfully carving out a career in investment banking as part of HSBC’s real estate investment banking team after graduating with a Bsc in Economics from the University of Bristol. It is this combination of experience which she credits for giving her a critical eye to not only improve customer experience through design, but also crucially increase the value of a property.
Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role
My current role is Product Design Manager at Edwardian Hotels London. I am responsible for managing our in-house Design Team’s projects which vary in scale from refurbishing bedrooms to reimagining a 267-bedroom hotel. Prior to joining Edwardian Hotels London, I completed my Associate Degree in Interior Design at Parsons School of Design New York where I also interned with the design firm Yabu Pushelberg, best known for their award-winning work in the hospitality industry.
My career started on a very different path. Before exploring a profession in design, I spent four years in investment banking at HSBC, after completing a degree in Economics and Management at Bristol University.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
My career has always been very important to me, so I certainly gave considerable thought to the direction I wanted to take. Through witnessing the passion and commitment my father gave to his business, Edwardian Hotels London, I knew from a young age that I wanted to work with him and the rest of my family. Most of our family holidays were work-related. Whether it be sourcing trips for furniture and art or tours of newly opened hotels, work and pleasure were always interconnected, it was a model that I wanted to emulate.
After a few years in the banking sector I felt unfulfilled and wondered how I could best combine work and pleasure within my career. Knowing that I ultimately wanted to join our family business I reached out to my father for mentorship. A key part of our business is ensuring that we invest in our properties, interiors and product to ensure our guests have a great experience. We therefore discussed the idea of me doing an interior design course. He believed that having the combination of design and business understanding would ensure I would be able to make design decisions on behalf of the business that would make commercial sense. I completed a few courses in London, found an intensive 18 month course in Parsons New York and joined Edwardian Hotels London soon after. The role that my job now plays in my life is one that I am very fortunate to have – challenging yet enjoyable.
Have you faced any challenges along the way?
Working in two industries means I’ve faced a lot of challenges and learnt a lot of lessons. Working in investment banking meant unpredictable long hours and learning how to navigate a highly competitive and a largely male environment. This resulted in me developing a strong work ethic, as well as giving me a solid understanding of the commercial and business world.
My transition into design was daunting, given I had worked in the same job for over four years and felt confident in my role and responsibilities – I was then going back to being an intern! Fast forward a few years, juggling a young child and working full-time hasn’t been without its difficulties. Through flexible working, learning to delegate, and the support from my fantastic team, it’s becoming a lot easier.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
Professionally, working in our in-house Design Team under Rob Steul, Creative Director Edwardian Hotels London, to complete a multimillion-pound renovation of our five-star property in Manchester, the Radisson Blu Edwardian, Manchester, which involved launching the award-winning Peter Street Kitchen in October last year. Aside from our ongoing work on the group’s first super boutique hotel The Londoner, it has been our largest and most complicated in-house designed and managed project. We are very proud of the result and it’s great to see our guests truly enjoy the space we have created.
What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?
In truth, I don’t feel I have accomplished a fraction of both my personal and professional life ambitions, but perhaps it is this focus on improving the future that spurs me on – and keeps me up at night!
How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?
Mentoring is extremely important to me. Through my ongoing work with the Madrinha Trust, a charity committed to developing the future leaders in the developing world, I have recently coached a very talented girl called Vanessa, who has recently graduated with a BHSc Cum Laude. It’s so important that those who can take responsibility to do more and should proactively reach out to the younger generation to offer their expertise and guidance.
Personally, I have been lucky enough to have several unofficial mentors around me. My father being a prominent figure throughout my life, however I have always taken advice from my mother, siblings and now my husband. I feel extremely fortunate to have people around me who I respect, who know me and what I am capable of.
If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Parity, what would it be?
Before implementing change, we need to understand the reason behind gender parity. Is it because more women opt out of working full time after having children? If so, we need to embrace the future of work; ensuring women aren’t made to feel guilty for choosing to start a family alongside their career but also not make women feel guilty for deciding to have a break from their career.
For parents who wish to work, the workplace needs to become more flexible. Enabling mothers and fathers to have shorter days in the office and the option to log back on in the evenings once their children are asleep.
Having children is a joint decision by a couple and in a completely equal world both men and women would share the responsibilities of having a child. However, if the parental role is not shared equally, as is often the case, employers should work hard to support working mothers, meaning women do not opt out of professional opportunities due to other commitments. It’s about offering women flexibility and choice.
If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?
Do not have a rigid picture of what your future will look like. You don’t know what unexpected opportunities may come your way – always be open minded and seize the opportunities that you are presented with!
What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?
I’m excited to complete our latest project The Londoner in Leicester Square, the heart of the West End. Set to open in 2020, as the group’s first purpose-built hotel it’s our most exciting and ambitious project to date.
We are working alongside design firm Yabu Pushelberg to develop a new brand. It’s great to be working with the team again, and very surreal that my journey with George Yabu and Glenn Pushelberg has taken me from intern to client. We are creating the world’s first super boutique hotel. Our role is to ensure there is intimate luxury throughout the hotels elegant 350 rooms and social spaces. Within the hotel there are six concept eateries, each with their own individual look and feel. We wanted to provide our guests a variety of spaces to reside in dependent on their mood. I feel so privileged to be involved in a hotel of this scale so early on in my career, The Londoner is an exciting project not just for Edwardian Hotels London but for London as well!