Shara Paulo a finalist for Young Achiever of the Year

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“Newly registered architects will tend to focus more on technical excellence at the expense of extra-curricular activities, but Shara has no boundaries.” - Damian Simpson

Congratulations to Shara, who is a finalist in the Harrison Grierson Young Achiever of the Year category in the inaugural Bay of Plenty Property People Awards. Run by Property Council New Zealand, the Awards celebrate outstanding leaders and innovation excellence in the Bay of Plenty property industry.

A member of Ignite’s Tauranga studio since 2015, Shara’s career path is interesting. After graduating from Victoria University in 2008 with a NZIA Student Design Award nomination under her belt, Shara migrated to the UK, where the global financial crisis had created a shortage of architectural roles. Shara met the challenge with her typical can-do attitude, doubling as a part-time sustainability trainer and developer with architectural practice AWW, and as a full-time professional development manager for NHS doctors and dentists. 

The adaptability, leadership and management skills she acquired during this time have stood Shara in excellent stead during her career at Ignite, where she became a Registered Architect and Associate in just three years.

Shara is passionate about her adopted home, Tauranga, and the opportunities it offers in her profession. An active committee member of the local branch of the New Zealand Institute of Architecture, she is involved in organising several key events at this year’s Festival of Architecture and has put many hours into raising awareness of the public’s role in shaping the places where they live and work. She is also involved in the Ignite Graduate Programme, supporting new architects on their road to registration.

Waikato-Bay of Plenty Regional Manager Damian Simpson praises Shara’s energy and commitment to life-long learning.

“Newly registered architects will tend to focus more on technical excellence at the expense of extra-curricular activities, but Shara has no boundaries,” he says. “She was co-winner of our Living our Values Award in recognition of her propensity to work with integrity and challenge herself. And that applies to the work she does with NZIA and the wider industry.”

Shara’s work with Ignite reflects her love of people and culture, including tikanga Māori. The sensitivity she brings to her designs shines through in buildings such as the QE Health and Wellness Spa and Rehabilitation Centre in Rotorua, where she wove Māori myths and legends into the architecture. Likewise, the city’s first dementia care village is built around the idea of a central wharenui, uniting all residents in a large “household”. Outside the Bay of Plenty, Shara has worked on projects ranging from the Star Mountain Plaza hotel and conference centre in Port Moresby to the ground-breaking Waitomo Sky Garden concept design.

Shara also has ambitions to build Ignite’s relationships in Tauranga, its growing wellness portfolio and her own leadership skills to encourage other female architects. In Shara’s own words: “The next few years will be about experience, experience, experience to maintain and diversify my knowledge base.”

The winners of all awards categories will be announced on September 20.

Ignite wishes Shara all the best for the awards and for her future career. With such an outstanding attitude and achievements to date, there will undoubtedly be many more successes to come.