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AUS alumna strikes a balance in the business of design
American University of Sharjah (AUS) alumna Hala AlSabouni has found the perfect balance between a successful design and business career in her new role of Interior Design Manager at the UAE’s leading boutique developer, Ellington Properties.
Graduating from AUS only five years ago with a Bachelor of Interior Design and a minor in design management from the acclaimed College of Architecture, Art and Design (CAAD), AlSabouni is living her childhood dream to pursue a career in the creative industry.
Born and raised in the UAE, AlSabouni enrolled in CAAD in 2012, drawn to its reputation for being the top institution in the UAE for architecture and design, its state-of-the-art design-build facilities and its international recognition by the National Architectural Accrediting Board in the USA.
“AUS’s meticulous program kick-started my foundation for design thinking and space planning skills through the teaching process of constructive critiques, iterations and creative concept creation,” said AlSabouni.
“The high-profile professors involved in teaching each course are focused on building the students up for success by pushing their boundaries and challenging their skill set during each stage of the program. This aided in developing a standard quality for research, work production and presentation that I was able to take with me post-graduation,” she said.
After graduating, AlSabouni’s first foray in the design arena was in commercial residential developments, working on concept design, material selections and show homes. Under the mentorship of her leaders at Ellington Properties, she had the opportunity to expand her knowledge and skills, juggling several projects at different stages while simultaneously managing a range of tasks for the boutique developer.
AlSabouni credits her minor studies in design management for providing her with the initial tools to better understand the business side of the design industry. In this minor, students take select courses from the AUS School of Business Administration, as well as from CAAD.
“I believe that being creative is a major plus, however it needs to be balanced with a business mindset in order to work with different disciplines and teams on achieving a shared vision. A background in design management has allowed me to build my experience in communication, social aptitude, client-focused skills and production speed in order to move a project forward through strategized planning,” said AlSabouni.
In her new role, AlSabouni is focused on project management and site coordination for upcoming residential towers located in Jumeirah Village Circle and private signature villas located on Palm Jumeirah. She points to effective interpersonal and intercultural communication in working with diverse design and construction teams as keys to her success as an interior design manager.
“Being able to work alongside our design team and external disciplines has shown me the importance of building relationships and communication skills to deal with people from different backgrounds while also being open to their work style and personalities. Having the chance to work for a diverse range of clients has opened my mind to the different ways we can tailor a project in order to provide a desirable home and environment that suits their requirements and needs. Working with our construction team has shown me the significance of developing certain details during the design stage that would later enhance the overall process during construction,” she said.
As a member of CAAD's interior design alumni who have enjoyed widespread success, AlSabouni said being part of the designer’s social scene has been essential to building a connected network.
“Investing in building professional relationships with progressive-minded designers in the industry has allowed me to stay in tune with the latest trends, projects and innovative ideas. Being an active member in the industry has enabled great opportunity to exchange knowledge, share guidance and raise support,” she said.
For more information about the College of Architecture, Art and Design visit www.aus.edu/caad.