Jane Ho, principal and director of health at HKS Architects, on how she joined the property industry, the challenges she has overcome, the films she loves and her number-one travel destination.
How did you join the property industry?
I was originally drawn to medicine as a career but had also always enjoyed art and drawing. I found healthcare architecture satisfied both my scientific and creative interests and I was attracted to its need for problem solving.
What does your job entail now?
I work with private and public sector clients to design healthcare facilities that will enhance patient and staff experiences and improve care outcomes. As well as building new facilities, retrofitting buildings is a big focus for our teams and I expect that to continue. It’s more sustainable and, as town centres continue to evolve, it’s an excellent way to repurpose retail units and could play an important role in reinvigorating high streets.
What do you dislike most about the property industry?
I believe that if we are going to create successful and accessible buildings and places, we need to better reflect the society and people that we are serving. We need to be more collaborative and inclusive.
What would you change about the property industry?
I want to encourage more diversity in the sector. Role models are incredibly important for young people starting out in their careers and employers have an important role to play in nurturing, respecting and training staff to support and enable a route map to senior management and director levels in companies.
What barriers or challenges do you feel you have overcome?
I feel very fortunate to have found a place where I have been able to thrive and develop at HKS Architects. There have been moments in my career where I realised that my environment wasn’t conducive to me delivering my best work or progressing with project- and business-focused experience as anticipated. Accepting that, and not being afraid to make changes and move on, has been crucial in getting me to where I am today.
What are you most proud of in your career?
Completing my masters in Planning Buildings for Health alongside my full-time job early on in my career. It was a tricky balance, and I needed to have self-discipline and keep myself motivated while finding the time outside work to keep going, but it was immensely worthwhile and satisfying to complete the milestone.
What do you value in people?
Honesty, in both my personal and professional life. I’d always rather someone was upfront with me if there are any issues, so that we can discuss and resolve together.
What advice would you give someone starting a career in the property industry?
Get as much exposure to different parts of the sector as you can. There are so many jobs you might not even be aware of – work with different people, stretch yourself and find the role that suits your individual strengths.
Most importantly, find an area that excites you.