Zaha Hadid is one of the world’s most respected architects, she was the first female winner of the Pritzker Prize, architecture’s highest award, and has built dramatic and famous buildings around the world, including the aquatics centre for the London Olympics. She’s also notoriously difficult for clients to work with, and, as a recent Financial Times interview reveals, very difficult to work for.
The interview opens with her snapping at an architect. She then has her two assistants remove her boots so she can walk five yards across a room. She refers to her young staff as “kids” or “children.”
“People have to understand my limits. There is a point of no return. Most people who work with me know that line,” Hadid told the FT’s Emma Jacobs.
If you cross Hadid’s point of no return, you can expect a “volcanic” outburst, according to unnamed colleagues. Apparently, blowups and on the spot firings are so common that they’re the subject of staff jokes:
What do you do if Zaha sacks you? Pretend she hasn’t and turn up for work as usual? Go home and wait for the phone call demanding you return to the office? Or decide she’s not for you and work somewhere else?
It’s the sort of management style you don’t generally see anymore, especially at a firm that has more than 300 people.
Such command and control and fiery management was more common in the past, and still persists to a degree in finance and the entertainment industry. Hadid gets away with it due to her reputation and by chalking it up to the artistic temperament, but few others could.
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