Leading CODA through change

Matt Bowker
CODA Architecture Sheffield Directors

Just over a year ago the management team were coming through a process of change. We had seen a great year of project delivery and a growing pipeline of projects. We were confident about the future, then the pandemic struck and so much changed.

However, it was so straightforward for us. David Cross had moved on to focus on his approach to development and we were a new leadership driving a refreshed and renewed business. Abel, Jamie and I were now leading CODA having worked for the business over many years of professional development. We now had full ownership and were running CODA outright.

Casting my mind back, we were braced for change in management. We knew where we wanted to take the business; the values we wanted to drive the business by and the mission for it to thrive. I was hugely excited about the growing emphasis on towns, building on our city centre track record. I was hugely motivated by the increasing desire to see our work align with Net Zero aspirations. Like most of the industry we were investing in our technology offering and the skills required to optimise new functionality and digital propositions. We were building our client base outside of Sheffield and Manchester. All in themselves, hugely exciting developments in their own right.

The pandemic cut across our business as usual, making our transition so much harder to meet.

It brings the reality to the fore that the team we have is our strongest; yes there have been changes, but we are stronger for them. We have a substantial order book and have not missed a beat on delivery for our clients. And we are now back in growth mode with a series of projects we will be able to bring forward and talk more about as they ripen. It has been astonishing period looking back.

The distance between that moment before the lockdown to now has been an incredible journey. From an office brimming with hard work and fun, just as it always has been as we move between quiet and disorder. All that collective passion became squeezed into a screen in some spare space in our homes. For us, a young, ambitious, driven team that was a tough hill to climb and placed pressure on Abel, Jamie and I to find new ways to organise ourselves; to collaborate; to communicate.

For us there were 3 lessons to be drawn from this:

Plan – without the ever present fluidity of office time, we have needed to ensure that our diaries, our time, is well organised. Equally, be ready to shift your plans when everything changes as is all too often the case. Your time is a hugely valuable commodity that you have to invest in correctly; spend it wisely.

Communicate – and then some. And then some more. When your communication with colleagues and clients is stripped back to phonecalls, texts and video conferencing, it is necessary to find ways to widen the conversation, illuminate all angles.

Be kind – this is a tough time for all of us. With yourself and with those around you, it is important to relax. This is life defining period in all of our professional lives; the rules have changed. We need time to adapt. As much as we parent our children and manage our businesses, you need to keep an eye on yourself and indeed the team around you. Life happens to all of us and as colleagues and friends is to be cool, be kind.

As for Abel, Jamie and I, we are a team facing into the future for CODA. We have a lot to be excited about.


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Matt-Bowker CODA Architecture

Matt Bowker

A qualified urban designer, Matt joined CODA in 2004 during its first year in business and has been instrumental in overseeing the firms capability to deliver significant residential and mixed use schemes.

Matt is responsible for managing a growing Architectural and Planning consultancy practice. He applies a hands-on approach and is passionate about driving design excellence and consistency from initial concept through to delivery on site. Get to know Matt >>

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