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Career by design: Nick celebrates 25 years

December 21, 2021 | People
Career by design: Nick celebrates 25 years

“I think the variety of work is a powerful motivator,” says Nick Healey, General Manager of Design, reflecting on his 25-year career at Paynter Dixon.

While born in Sydney, Nick spent his childhood in north London where he relished exploring old bomb shelters and derelict buildings from the second world war.

“In the 1960s it was still possible to find remnants of the war throughout the back streets, with people often finding undetonated bomb shells,” says Nick.

“You can imagine how exciting that was for a young boy,” he adds with a smile.

On completing school, Nick studied architecture in London and worked several years at an architectural practice. In the early 1990s, he decided to take a gap year and travel the globe.

“There were plenty of adventures over the 12 months, but I remember climbing Mount Merapi in Java literally the day before it erupted.”

Returning to Sydney, Nick landed a position with Woods Bagot where he introduced a CAD system to the architectural firm. Looking to branch out, the young designer responded to a job advertisement in the Sydney Morning Herald placed by Paynter Dixon. The rest, they say, is history.

“In those days the industry was still predominately paper based with a reliance on fax machines and mail. It was good timing because I was able to help the business adopt electronic systems.”

Over the course of 25 years Nick has overseen projects across hospitality, aged care and community. While his job title has changed more than once, the work has always focused on preconstruction and working closely with clients.

“Making it all happen is what I enjoy most. The hardest part of any job is usually the most fulfilling, and I relish the opportunity of turning the client’s ideas into documents you can build from.”

“Our role is to help clients track towards the best outcome, which means navigating approvals on their behalf, resolving issues when they arise, and empowering client decisions through effective communication. Drawings and illustrations remain a powerful medium for building confidence.”

Overseeing a talented design team, Nick believes the work culture is a defining characteristic of the business.

“We’ve always had good people. There’s a natural aptitude for working collaboratively and towards a common goal, which makes my job easier as well.”

When pressed to name a favourite project, Nick cites St Vincent De Paul’s State Support Office in Sydney’s inner west. Paynter Dixon oversaw the design and fit out of the Five Star Green Star rating, A-grade commercial building.

“It was a demanding project that showcased our ability for problem solving. The challenges ranged from carrying out demolition on a site nestled between two existing heritage buildings, through to implementation of energy-saving systems such as inverted air conditioning.”

Not that he’s resting on laurels – far from it. Having recently completed a Master of Building Surveying at UTS, Nick is a firm believer in continuous improvement.

“There’s always room for improvement in the building and design process – and it starts with exploring ideas.”

The boy who once searched the back streets of North London is very much alive.

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