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Tue 17 Mar 2020 01:29 PM

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"I always had an entrepreneurship edge... it was only a matter of time before I would be able to follow my passion"

Cem Kapancioglu, CEO of CK Architecture Interiors, on taking inspiration from his days as a high jump champion, how spotting a quality gap in the market has paid off and why Ferrari is his biggest inspiration

"I always had an entrepreneurship edge... it was only a matter of time before I would be able to follow my passion"

What inspires you?

Because of my background and expertise in the design and end-to-end delivery of highly bespoke living and working spaces for high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) I draw inspiration from the Ferrari brand story. There are one billion cars on the world’s roads today, and yet, the 10,000 Ferraris sold each year are those that turn heads and make people dream. All Enzo Ferrari wanted to do was design fast racing cars – instead what he did was to create a highly inspirational and iconic lifestyle brand.

What's one thing most people don't know about you?

I was a very good sportsman back in my younger days when I could leap and bounce. I was the high jump champion of Turkey in the youth category and a very good windsurfer. Performing consistency at such high level helped me to learn a lot about myself in terms of how to set goals, challenge myself to reach them and up the ante of my targets, each time striving for better results.

Quote to live your life by?

My father always says: “Everything in life has a price and if you are ready to pay the price you can buy it. But money can’t buy you happiness. Happiness comes within."

Finish this sentence, "the world would be a better place if only…."

…we could respect and protect nature by considering ourselves as an integral part of it, not the owners of it.

What's the story behind your business?

I founded CK Architecture Interiors in Dubai in 2010. My vision was to create a vertically integrated design and build boutique specialist in the creation of opulent living and working spaces. I wanted it to be different. Unique, if possible. So, I realised that most companies offering a similar type of service in the market outsource a substantial part of their deliverables to other third-party suppliers. This is when I realised that I had to introduce in-house capabilities in space planning, individualised project management and construction, in order to be able to provide, high quality end-to-end, bespoke solutions for discerning, demanding and sophisticated clients.

By 2014 the company started growing on the back of project wins from clients such as Anantara on the Palm and Burj Khalifa.

Today, CK Architecture Interiors employs 150 people specialising in the full spectrum of the design and build sector. It has successfully completed and currently working on projects at Dubai’s most prestigious locations including Burj Khalifa and Palm Jumeirah.

Since back in the school days I always had an entrepreneurship edge and once I graduated with an architecture degree it was only a matter of time before I would be able to follow my passion, having gone to work for some of the most prestigious firms in Dubai and in Turkey, which helped me gather valuable experience from the sector.

How did your business start the year?

We have had a good start to the year with many new projects namely in Palm Jumeirah, Burj Khalifa, Bluewaters. We are also pitching for a few Expo 2020-related projects for which we are really excited about.

How has the demand for architecture services changed with the challenging market at present?

There is no doubt that the times are challenging, however it is encouraging to reference a recent UBS bank study, according to which Dubai is among the world’s top 20 cities with the most fair property prices and an infrastructure that is conducive to doing business. At the end of the day, clients always seek value across three key variables; speed, cost and quality, not always in the same order. It’s about priorities. As a client, you can decide which two you’re mostly concerned about. Fast delivery and price may not give you the quality you wish. If you opt for quality and price you may not get the desired delivery time.

With our customer-centric philosophy, the real challenge is to keep up the high quality best practices in design and construction and also do it in a fast track manner having the entire client experience in mind.

If all goes well, where do you see business going in the next five years? The next decade?

In five years, we aspire to be a regional leader in our niche catering to the HNWI residential and commercial space owners. Over a ten-year period, our vision is to be able to undertake the turnkey delivery of high-end boutique developments in the region.

What do you enjoy the most about working at your company?

When we start on a project, I take a piece of paper and start drawing some sketches. As the project is nearing completion and we are ready to hand it over, I am overwhelmed with a plethora of beautiful feelings when I stand there and see in front of me the actual space, built to its full glory, as a copy of those initial sketches. This is when I feel very emotional. And during the period between conception and deliver, getting the best out of people and keeping motivated to overcome the various challenges we face is also a very rewarding feeling. It’s a very fulfilling job.

What advice would you give to someone going into a leadership position for the first time?

To be a leader you first need to do something.
To do something you need to know what to do.
To know what to do is about clarity.
Clarity is about vision.
Vision is about imagination.
Imagination is visualising something that is not there and knowing how to make it happen.
It is like a football game - in your mind you play it and win it before the actual game.
Winning or losing does not matter as long as you learn from losing.

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