“Making it work is the most beautiful part of the job”: Luca Andreetta on being a Design Manager at Staticus

Delivering what the client wants on time and within budget may not always be easy, but it is always a must. That’s according to Luca Andreetta, Design Manager at Staticus.

Highlighting the importance of interpersonal skills in his role, Luca says that his mission as a manager is to set his team up for success. He does this by keeping a clear sense of the bigger picture while tapping into the technical skills of different specialists from across our company.

We sat down with Luca to learn more about what a Design Manager does, what thinking as a manager means, and his first impressions of work in Staticus’ international team.

Hi Luca. Please tell us a bit about your career path.

I began my professional career working in architectural studios and then joined a façade contractor as a Technical Designer. There, I started by doing drawings – the first thing a technical guy does. Then I progressed to the role of Design Manager over the next fourteen years. We mostly developed projects in the UK – London, Manchester, and Bristol.

After I left that company in 2021, I worked for a couple of other façade contractors that operated in the US. And now I’m a Design Manager at Staticus, working on our UK projects – which means I’m back to the market I am familiar with.

In terms of company culture, what have you noticed so far working at Staticus?

I’d say that the biggest difference between other companies and Staticus is that we are open to new ideas.

Everybody here is asking for feedback and looking for ways to improve how things are done. Anyone can raise their hand and give their opinion, and people pay attention – it’s clear that the company wants to keep improving. I really like this approach.

Another great thing is flexibility. You can work from home or organise your time as you prefer, according to your needs because here, the most important thing is to deliver what was agreed upon. I believe that being flexible allows us to achieve better results, and sometimes even in less time.

How would you briefly describe your role at Staticus? What are your responsibilities?

Design Managers are tasked with overseeing the project engineering side and assessing the potential impact of decisions on the overall design outcome. Part of the role involves discerning areas where additional assistance, such as calculations, procurement and production, may be required from various colleagues within the organisation. However, as a Design Manager, you have to have a technical background. Because understanding technical issues facilitates effective communication with fellow project team members who possess engineering processes.

Externally, I communicate with clients, architects and consultants on the technical aspects of the project, so that we deliver what we’ve sold on time and within budget.

What sort of skills do you need to be a Design Manager?

Design Manager is the first managerial position that technical designers get, so it’s a point where you need to swap technical thinking for thinking like a manager. The bigger the team you’re managing, the less focused on the technical side you’re going to be.

And as you start managing a team, your soft skills come into play. Understanding people, making them comfortable at work, and inspiring passion in them – that’s what a Design Manager does daily. In this role, your people skills are very important.

Can you share some of your insights and experiences regarding managing a team of designers?

I believe that the Design Manager’s core responsibility lies in optimising the collective potential of every team member involved in a project.

I equip each individual with the necessary information and tools to consistently deliver high-quality work within designated timelines. I am also tasked with promptly resolving any unforeseen challenges that may arise during project execution, ensuring seamless progress and minimal hick-ups.

I proactively anticipate potential obstacles and try to maintain a helpful working environment for my team members. Recognising the unique strengths and preferences of each team member is important, thus it enables me to approach and collaborate on a personal level.

So, my understanding of the requirements and expectations of various departments within Staticus is essential for seamless execution and successful project outcomes.

In façade design, achieving the right balance between technical and aesthetic factors is very important. What are the challenges of achieving this?

Making it work is perhaps the most beautiful part of the job. Delivering what the architects need on time and at the right cost is not always easy, but it’s very rewarding.

The challenges we face on each project depend on the client’s and the architect’s expectations. Sometimes it’s impossible to deliver what the architect wants – the geometry of the building is one thing, but there are also regulations we need to follow and the properties of the materials we need to take into account.

Costs can also be a challenge – winning a tender means a fixed price, so we have to manage monetary constraints, too. There are a lot of things that might hold us back, so we need to find a way to make it work.

What do you like most about working in an international team?

The obvious benefit of working with people across Europe is that you have access to many different perspectives and experiences. I believe that having different opinions – not only on project-specific things but also on ways to approach work in general – is a great boost to your development as a professional.

And also, the opportunity to meet everyone in person in the offices, it’s a great addition to the positive company’s culture.