Zahra Williams accepts zzap Director of Operations role
Halifax, Nova Scotia – April 3, 2022
At Zwicker Zareski Architecture + Planning (zzap), we’re pleased to share the news, with our clients, partners, colleagues and the HRM community, that Zahra Williams recently accepted a new role as zzap’s Director of Operations. Many may already know or have worked with Zahra, and this position is a direct result of her leadership, value and contributions at zzap.
As Director of Operations, Zahra will work closely with clients, consultants, zzap personnel, and the senior management team, developing and executing long-term strategies that encompass all aspects of client relations and internal operations, including decision-making. She’ll also oversee operational documentation to ensure consistent, efficient workflows are in place to yield optimal productivity and performance.
In other words, she’ll help keep zzap ticking.
“Recognizing talent and empowering your people is a win-win,” explains zzap co-founder, Greg Zwicker. “In the last three years, Zahra has become an integral part of the management team, and we felt it was time to acknowledge all that she brings to the table in a role that reflects her knowledge and growth. On our end, we’re excited because taking on her new responsibilities paves the way for the firm to keep delivering projects to this community, focusing not so much on size but on sophistication.”
“Zahra’s role is also an organic outcome of the evolution at zzap,” adds Justine Bowles, Principal at zzap, “and developing in-house capacity adds up to more and better ways to help our clients. Our go-to is to be service-oriented, flexible and nimble, and we want to retain that vibe as we grow. Zahra is a big part of making that happen.”
Zahra has her own words to say about working at zzap and thoughts on placemaking, community and the built environment in HRM. And now, we’d like to let Zahra do the talking.
Getting to know Zahra
A zzap frame of mind…
The size of the firm I work for and its practices are critical to me. Earlier in my career, I worked for larger, national firms. But ultimately, I knew I wanted to build my career in an owner-operated, regional firm where I could try different things and see where I fit best.
I chose to work at zzap because I liked the way Joe and Greg think and their business practices, collectively responding to needs of local geography, community and its built environment. In zzap, they created a firm of collaborative thinkers that convert what they know into actionable results, in a ‘sum of the whole is greater than the parts’ kind of way. That approach dovetails with my own aspiration to effect change in the face of the city I live in—remembering who that city is as it evolves—by being of and in it.
Who cities are…
Every city has its own distinct character, particularly HRM where its sense of ‘place’ is deeply informed by a history unique to Nova Scotia. The reality is that when people who are of a city are involved in the design decisions of that city, the way buildings are realized incorporate a cultural reflection of that city, resulting in a different architectural presence.
In the run of a day, I touch on many projects, the majority of which are in a 15 kilometer radius from the office. When decision-making is more localized, there’s a lot more flexibility to respond and align to culture and history, with love and respect. Heritage projects are actually an area of expertise for us, and we’re finding more ways to integrate it into our practices, in addition to specific projects.
The path less taken …
Although the nature of architectural training is typically linear, my education track exposed me to different work environments and a diversity of roles. I viewed each role as a learning opportunity to gain skills and a broader, more holistic understanding of the industry. Essentially, I learned both the macro, big picture, and the micro, task-level, and the combined knowledge lets me build more into the process.
HRM or bust…
What I like at zzap is the way we’ve shaped the practice. We can be of service with clients and projects, start to finish, within a culture that condones taking risks outside of our comfort zone. Generally speaking, I find most people are encouraged with the way development in HRM is happening, without anyone forgetting who Halifax is. We’re all excited by the dynamic changes in the city, and when challenges arise, we want to face and embrace them, with the community.