While helping her husband build up a successful architectural design and build company, former nurse and midwife Lena Doull discovered a love of art and design that would lead her to become a qualified interior designer.
"I'd been involved in my husband's business for many years, assisting with client and supplier liaison, admin and design consultations," she says. "I felt that it wasn't enough for the 'boss's wife' to be co-ordinating the interiors of our clients' homes so I decided to arm myself with a robust, industry-recognised qualification to add credibility to the business."
Lena set about researching study options that suited her situation. "I had to be able to remain in Christchurch as I have three children and the business to help run. And as it's such a visual qualification, it was important to me to be able to deal directly with tutors and fellow students so distance learning didn't suit me. It also had to be achievable within a year, as that was all the time I could afford to be 'absent' from family and the business."
Lena says she chose CPIT (now Ara Institute of Canterbury) because it ticked all the boxes and "has a reputation for delivering relevant education and internationally recognised qualifications".
Her leap of faith in returning to study proved rewarding. "I loved the course and the opportunity to explore art and design, to be creative and to develop my skills and talents. The project work was enjoyable, positive and completely absorbing and I worked hard for good results."
A highlight for Lena was learning to use ArchiCAD software to produce 2D and 3D visualisations of designs. Since graduating she's attended more ArchiCAD courses and upgraded her skills further.
Towards the end of her diploma, Lena was thrilled to be awarded the Resene Award for Excellence in Colour. "It's still early in my career but I have aspirations to succeed in the industry and it was great to receive recognition for my work as it develops."
Lena is now a director of Dwell Homes, the business she runs with her husband. She works closely with architect and client, creating ArchiCAD drawings and schedules for each project, and sourcing plumbing, lighting, flooring, kitchen and bathroom fittings as well as hard and soft furnishings.
"The year I spent at CPIT was invaluable," she says. "Having gained relevant knowledge, design skills and appropriate technical language terms I now have the confidence to present my designs as viable and relevant, and to introduce myself as a designer to other industry professionals."