‘I’m a bit of everything’ admits businesswoman of the year Zaha Hadid
Zaha Hadid talked of the struggle to maintain a ‘studio focus’ as she picked up the 41st Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Award
The 2012 Jane Drew-prize winning architect said her approach to architecture tried to balance business demands with fostering an innovative environment.
Asked by BBC Radio 4’s Today programme whether she was an architect, artist or businesswoman; Hadid said: ‘I’m a bit of everything. As an architect you are not told at school how to run a business.
‘But if you have any office beyond a certain number it’s a business, we try to focus ours as a studio, to develop ideas, the challenging part is be able to maintain artistic quality and innovation with a business sensibility.’
The international prize is awarded to women entrepreneurs and business leaders who share the ‘enterprising spirit, courage and determination’ of Veuve Clicquot chief Madame Clicquot.
The criteria for the award included being the founder or driving force behind a company and sustaining profitable business growth and a healthy balance sheet with a minimum turnover of £3 million.
Other requirements were a commitment to socially responsible commerce and being a role model, especially to other women.
Asked by the programme how UK attitudes to women compared to other countries , Hadid said: ‘People are much more accustomed now to women, there might be certain prejudices in certain places [but] I honestly have not encountered them.
She added: ‘I have encountered them on the other hand sometimes in the Anglo-Saxon world, in the UK and maybe in America.’
‘I’m not sure it’s worse, it’s only a personal experience. No-one is going to come and tell me ‘We don’t want me to get this job because you’re a woman’.
She continued: ‘I did come across a lot of resistance and prejudice when I started to build the Cardiff [Bay] Opera House which was already 20 years ago.
‘I don’t think it was in any way hidden, the commentary by certain people in various papers or radio, it was not necessarily because I’m a woman but because I’m a foreigner.’
The competition-winning scheme was abandoned in 1995 and alter replaced by the Wales Millennium Centre which opened in 2004.
Asked what she thought of nation-building efforts in her home country of Iraq, Hadid said: ‘It might take it a while [but] I have confidence in the Arab world. It is such a wealthy place, not with only resources but with people who are smart and hardworking. Eventually they will work it out.’
Christina Jesaitis of Veuve Clicquot said:‘Dame Zaha has made her mark across the globe with iconic works that will inspire people for decades. Not only has she had a huge impact on the world of architecture as a whole, but she has demonstrated great zeal as businesswomen, growing Zaha Hadid
Architects successfully, adapting to change and demonstrating fantastic CSR credentials. She displays the same passion and determination that Madame Clicquot possessed over 200 years ago.’