Jon Webber is a Registered Architect and the Managing Director of Webber Architects. Jon grew up in Newcastle, surfing at Bar Beach and working as a bricklayer’s labourer and beach lifeguard in between studying architecture at the University of Newcastle.
Jon began his architectural career in Sydney before gaining further experience working and travelling overseas. About 15 years ago, his eagerness to return to the coastal lifestyle brought him back to Newcastle. It’s here that he established his Newcastle-based business, which started out of his garage.
Webber Architects now has Newcastle and Sydney-based offices and a team of 20 architectural and support staff members. Jon’s expertise, passion and drive inspires his team and each project. He ensures the client’s vision as well as the project’s functionality and feasibility so they can stay at the forefront along every stage of the design process.
- Tell us about your career path?
My career started at a young age, working on building sites with my father who was a bricklayer. One of my little anecdotes – he always used to love telling his friends that I didn’t get enough marks to become an bricklayer. But, after finishing architecture at the University of Newcastle, I decided to broaden my horizons and work in Sydney for a few years. Then worked and travelled overseas for two years as well, working with Sir Richard MacCormac in London, which is quite a good experience.
On return, I set up this business in Newcastle in 2002, which started in my parents’ garage. That led on to an office in the Junction, to an office in Hunter Street, and finally to where we are today, with 20 staff across our Newcastle and Sydney offices.
- What motivates and drives you?
Any architect would say what motivates them is to deliver quality architecture for the community. But, what really motivates me as well, is to meet the client’s brief. Learning how they would use the spaces can help you see something that’s suitable for their use. I like to do lots of options, so showing people how they might use a space that they might not have thought about. And then talking through and discussing those options allows us to come up with a design that they really love.
- What do you believe has shaped your leadership style?
The shape of my leadership style, I think, has a lot to do with team sports. From a young age, I played rugby league. I’m still a current member of Cooks Hill Surf Club and compete with teams in that sport. I think the mentoring, coaching and training aspects of a team sport can be taken across to the business world. I also think that whenever there is involvement with a family – I’ve got a beautiful wife and four kids and my wife works in the business – you treat the business as an extension of your family.
- What is one action or task you incorporate into your diary each week?
Every day we do a morning catch up huddle with the management team to check in on what’s happening for the day and any issues that we might have coming up. That allows us to discuss the issues and get feedback from each other.Every Friday we have a full catch up with the whole office. So, the office gets to hear what the management team is talking about and it helps them grow and learn through communication within the office.
- Which local businessperson do you find inspiring?
There are probably two local business people, one being the former CEO of RDA Hunter, Todd Williams and the second being Michael Nielson, the CEO of Newcastle Now. Their passion for local projects and innovation and their ability to get projects up and running I find to be quite exciting for the Newcastle region.
They’re both similar age to myself, so quite often we’ve found each other to be a sounding board and can talk about various issues.