dhk celebrates Women’s Month highlighting the formidable women at the helm of the studio
South Africa celebrates Women’s Month annually in August. The month is dedicated to honouring the significant role of women in society and reflect on historical events and challenges. In order to commemorate this, dhk has highlighted the formidable women who are at the helm of the studio.
Presently in its 20th year in business, dhk credits much of its success to its remarkable women leaders. Derick Henstra, executive chairman at dhk, says, “We would not be where we are today without the major contributions women within our firm have made. We see the value in appointing and retaining female staff. We view it as paramount to sustaining a successful business”.
Renske Haller is a partner and managing director, and a prominent figure at dhk. Moreover, she leads several significant projects within the Cape Town studio. In 2018, Haller and her team completed Norval Foundation, a modern pavilion for art. Norval Foundation is a prestigious gallery having won several architectural awards. This includes a Fulton Award, SAPOA Award and an international Gold A’ Design Award. In addition to this, Haller sits on dhk’s design review board.
Senior Associate Sarah Patterson is another female architect steering major projects. Patterson is currently completing a new learning and innovation centre at Parklands College Secondary School. The progressive centre will accommodate activities like robotics and an innovation lab for building and crafting. Furthermore, it will include spaces for informal gathering, self-study and immersive digital experiences. Patterson is an advocate of gender balance in the architectural profession.
Anette Potgieter + Leigh Bishop
Partner and head of finance, Anette Potgieter, and partner and director, Leigh Bishop, are also exemplars of successful women leaders. Potgieter is responsible for the financial management at both of dhk’s studios and is a strong and accomplished force within the firm. Bishop recently joined dhk as a partner and director, bringing her wealth of experience to the team. Bishop is currently leading the renovations and extensions to exclusive wine farm in the Cape Winelands, Delaire Graff Estate.
Wardah Razak + Claudia Mela
Other key leaders within the company include associates Wardah Razak and Claudia Mela. Razak is instrumental in the various mentorship and educational initiatives at dhk. Whereas, Mela plays a significant role within the firm’s Johannesburg studio.
Haller speaks about retaining female talent. “We view competency in the construction industry as equal for all. We are geared towards equal pay and promotion. Additionally, we have entrenched progressive policies and systems which are aimed at supporting motherhood. We allow for family responsibilities, paid maternity leave, flexible-hours and accommodate family events”.
dhk is intent on maintaining an equitable playing field for all. The firm attributes its appointment of key women leaders to a zero-bias policy when hiring staff. Henstra says, “It is business as usual. When we hire, we hire the best people for the job”.
Find out more about Women’s Month in South Africa here.