When it comes to working on overseas projects, there are many elements to consider – and whether these be social or cultural, the shared goal should always be understood and the end result, fulfilling.
I am Head of Creative Design at the Resolution Interiors and we've always found that working collectively with others helps generate a shared sense of ownership – a feeling we experienced recently when working with the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship.
As part of our long-standing client relationship with Virgin Holidays, Resolution Interiors offered to provide design assistance for the relocation of the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship Caribbean – from Montego Bay to Kingston.
Myself and Charlotte Byrne, Project Manager, led this relocation project, working alongside the Branson Centre’s Chief Entrepreneurship Officer, Lisandra Rickards. We worked on the new design for the centre with a focus on bringing the brand values of Virgin into the environment – whilst celebrating the unique Jamaican surroundings.
The centre is sponsored largely by Virgin Unite and Virgin Holidays, with a vision to ignite Caribbean entrepreneurs to scale impactful, globally competitive, sustainable, businesses that lead to social, environmental and economic change.
The centre provides entrepreneurs the tools and education to thrive and grow. Their overarching message is to “Do good and spread the entrepreneur spirit” – something Resolution Interiors very much wanted to support.
The team and I were excited to work in Jamaica and were keen to address the challenges and opportunities that come with working on an international project. The key in any project, international or otherwise, is to be focused on the needs and wants of those it is impacting. Projects work when you put yourself in someone else’s place and put care and attention into understanding the values of that particular environment.
The focus from the outset is on listening and having a shared goal. In this case, it was creating something new, fresh and fun with a Virgin sense of humour. We wanted the Kingston community to feel part of a bigger story – and to empower people to make a difference in the business world.
Common ground is key
When working on international projects, success comes when an identity is created that is sympathetic to locality. This project was unique, the time scale was tight, and as I mentioned …. the client was based in the Caribbean! We had to learn new ways of sourcing and coordinating materials and furniture – which was all sourced locally. We quickly solidified our relationship and assisted in making material selections by using photos and phone calls. It wasn’t conventional, but it was fun, and the dialogue with Lisandra was fluid and easy – especially when considering the time difference.
Our Project Manager, Charlotte Byrne, said the following about arriving in Kingston for the official launch, “Having the opportunity to talk face to face with people we had only heard the voices of who were responsible in seeing our design come to life was a great experience. The sense of pride and excitement surrounding the centre was mirrored by everyone involved. Working with Virgin on a project such as this, you get to see the intentions of a brand that has invested in giving back to others and within local economies who will use and embrace this for years to come.”
From inception to delivery the only thing that separated us was water. When there is a sense of collectivism and recognition of the roles people play and the assigned responsibilities, things can be clear from the outset. We understood the importance of creating a design that would be easily interpreted by local contractors. In times of accelerated change, it is good to go back to basics.
Culture as a unifier
Although we have many differences between the UK and Jamaica, our commonalities are much bigger. We both want this to be a success and we both want this to be a place that has longevity. We both want this to be a place where there is a sense of kinship, a place which inspires and provokes the power of creative thought – a launch pad for a new breed of home grown entrepreneurs.
We can sum up the spirit of this project perfectly with one of the quotes Richard Branson chose in his top ten quotes on the power of connection. “I love those connections that make this big old world feel like a little village” - Gina Bellman.
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