Property Australia

Not-so-secret Star

Karen Jamal Karen Jamal August 17, 2021

GHDWoodhead’s assistant director Jane Cassidy was just named president of the Australian Institute of Architects in the ACT. Let's turn the spotlight on this not-so-secret star...

Introducing… Jane Cassidy, Assistant Director, GHDWoodhead

Three words to describe my job… Strategy. Advocacy. Empathy.

When I explain my role to people outside the property industry, I say… I’m an architect and I work in complex environments with institutional clients.

My three daily work essentials are… Dialogue, mentorship and analysis.

The biggest lesson I’ve learnt in my role… Is to listen – understanding your context and the people around you by listening is definitely a superpower.

My career motivation is… I love to learn. I love that architecture allows me to walk a proverbial mile in someone else’s shoes; to understand my client’s work and be able to create an environment that responds to their desires is awesome. The diversity of clients I work with at GHDWoodhead is extraordinary, from a cook in a remote island village to leading experts in academia, health care or security. There is always a crazy obscure new thing I learn every day!

My advice to others considering a career in my field… Push your boundaries – even when it’s difficult. If it feels hard, you are probably learning and developing skills. If it’s easy, you are not growing. You are never too old to learn.

The building or project that embodies what I do… Probably Norfolk Island Hospital; we have an amazing client and a passionate stakeholder community. The project is incredibly complex from a logistics and infrastructure perspective and has allowed us to think big about embodied energy and provide innovative solutions to improve the environment well beyond the boundaries of our site. The design solution, developed with multidisciplinary team of GHDWoodhead Architects and GHD engineers, scientists and project managers, is inspired by the spectacular site, context and culture. Intergenerational care is why I returned to practice from academia; we need challenge the institutional status quo and de-silo our elderly, young and vulnerable.

The inspirational quote I live by… Don’t wait for the storm to pass, learn to dance in the rain.

This year I’ll be… In my life and in my work I’ll be advocating for strategic planning and actionable policies to address climate change. I have recently switched from a sportscar to an electric bike for my commute to work. As advocated by the national emerging architect Sarah Lebner, “I will be the change”.


Who nominated Jane? Farhad Edibam, Studio Director ACT, GHDWoodhead

Why is Jane a Secret Star? Jane is a respected senior leader in our team valued beyond the scope of her role as a registered architect with more than 25 years of specialist experience – she is a passionate educator and advocates for the profession, and a sought-after consultant for her skill in facilitating complex stakeholder consultations.

Jane leads the GHDWoodhead Emerging Professional Network which aims to provide structured support to architectural graduates as they progress through their early career towards registration and beyond.

Jane’s expertise as a consultant is sought for her successful project management approach with an ability to balance creative and sustainable architectural design with effective stakeholder engagement, and the complex demands of large-scale institutional environments.

Jane is truly a star that shouldn’t be kept secret!