Joy Charbonneau is a project architect at KPMB Architects in Toronto.
What is your morning routine?
I wake up one or two hours before my husband and three-year-old son get out of bed and work in my home office on my own projects. I love starting my day with some personal time. Then I shower, get dressed, take my son to day care and ride my Dutch bike downtown to work. When I get in, I make sure I say “Good morning” to everyone on my team and start the day positive and with a smile.
Tell us about your career path.
I studied architecture at the University of Toronto. While in school I had a group of creative friends, and we’d do extracurricular activities to enrich our formative education: travel to other cities to see buildings, attend collaborative art installations, famous architects speeches, charrettes and art parties. I interned abroad in Germany and the Netherlands and have been working in Toronto for nearly a decade now.
As a professional, I’ve maintained extracurricular interests outside of the workplace: I’ve curated design exhibitions, started my own art practice, spoken at conferences and universities, exhibited design in Milan, designed furniture and home accessories, independently researched and promoted the work of 20 local designers, and juried design and craft work. I’m one of the founders of the Toronto Design Offsite Festival and an executive on Building Equality in Architecture Toronto (BEAT).
What challenges do you or women face in your industry?
Less than 30 per cent of architects are women, and this number thins rapidly as you move up to senior roles. It’s just the current reality, but times are changing. BEAT is an initiative that tries to promote the achievements of female architects and provide mentorship and networking opportunities for both women and men. I’m involved as an executive event planner, and it’s been really great bringing the community together and hearing positive feedback.
What advice would you give to young girls who want to be the NEXT you?
1. Be a team player. When colleagues do well, be verbal about it. Let other people know you’re proud of them and articulate why and what strengths they have. Your turn will come to shine, you just have to be patient, work hard, and be respectful of those around you.
2. Leave your comfort zone often. When you do, you learn and you will grow exponentially as a person.
3. “Work hard, party hard.” It’s an unconventional message about balance that my Uncle Bo always used to say to me. Focus, get your work done, and do it right, but also go out, have fun, meet people and network.
4. Negotiate to maintain balance. My husband and I take turns getting personal time to go out to openings, see friends, work late and stay active. We make sure we have dedicated family time as well, but we’re very good at giving each other breaks on a weekly basis.
How do you separate work life from your personal life?
My profession has a “work late” culture that starts in school and perpetuates into the workforce. If you want balance in your life, you have to plan for it strategically or work for people who know how to achieve it. Whoever is with you in the moment deserves your undivided attention. I find an appropriate break for texting and emailing at work and home.
What inspires you?
Genuine people, beautiful spaces, delicious food, fresh landscapes, catchy tunes, energetic crowds, cultural diversity, natural scents, open minds, motivated teams, selfless acts, crafted details, and fun loving moments with friends and family.