top of page

Structural Engineer Mo Fazlie Shares His Experiences Collaborating with Architects and Designers

In episode 28 of Think Big Podcast I chat to Structural Engineer Mo Fazlie. In this episode I wanted to get to know more about his experience collaborating with architects and landscape architects and his international experience. We discuss:

✨ His international experience

✨ How he bounced back from a disappointing IELTS score

✨ Shifting his mindset with vocabulary and taking the time to get better little by little

✨ How to ask your colleagues and senior associates for help and advice

✨ His experiences as a structural engineer collaborating with architects and landscape architects

✨ His learnings from reading The Culture Map by Erin Meyer

✨ His advice for speaking up in meetings

If you have to collaborate with engineers or external consultants you'll definitely hear some of the vocabulary that might come up in a consultant meeting. As a landscape architect I've always enjoyed collaborating with structural engineers so it was interesting to hear his side of the story.

Mo Fazlie's details:

✨ Connect with him on LinkedIn Mo Fazlie

Tara's details:

✨ Connect with me on LinkedIn Tara Cull


Extended Show Notes



umbrella company - an umbrella company is a company that employs agency contractors who work on temporary contract assignments

to work alongside someone - to collaborate

bid / tender - an invitation to bid for a project or accept a formal offer such as a takeover bid

infra - shorted slang version for infrastructure

Assistant QS - Quantity Surveyor

ICE Chartership - Institute of Engineers (UK)

vlog - video blog

multidisciplinary team - a team made up of different collaborators (engineers, architects, landscape architects)

gabion walls - A gabion is a cage, cylinder or box filled with rocks, concrete, or sometimes sand and soil for use in civil engineering, road building, military applications and landscaping

rip rap - collection of stones of various sizes and shapes, as designed by either a structural engineer or a landscape architect


come to fruition - attainment of anything desired

a bit of a push - pressure from someone

to tackle an issue - deal with it in a very determined or efficient way

to get your footing - successful entrance or settling into a new job position

to take your hat off to someone - to give (someone) praise or credit

when something strikes a chord - to strongly impress (someone)

to put yourself out there - being open and honest about who you are and how you feel or stepping outside your comfort zone

Phrasal Verbs

jot something down - to write something quickly

pay off - of a course of action which yields good results


Note: If you find any errors with this transcript please send me an email here.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 00:00

You're listening to think big episode 28

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 00:19

Hello big thinkers and welcome to episode 28 of Think Big English for architects. I'm your host, Tara Cull, Australian language teacher, coach and landscape architect. And I'm bringing together all these interests to help you build more outstanding communication skills. If English is your second or your third or your fourth language, and you're an architect, a landscape architect, or you work in the built environment, then you are definitely in the right place. To find out more about my coaching programmes, you can go to Aki And find out more. I'm really excited to today to share a conversation I had last year with Mo Fazlie or as I call him in the conversation, Faz. Faz is a structural engineer. And we talk about all things structural engineering, collaboration, working with consultants, and also learning languages. It's a really great conversation, which gives you insight into what it's like to work with a consultant. So let's get straight into today's interview to talk to Mofaz Lee, and find out more about his story.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 01:37

So I'm very happy to have you here today. Faz, I'm excited to talk to you because we've had some great conversations in the past about your work and your experiences. So could you tell everyone a little bit about Well, firstly, before you start, actually, where can people find you? So we'll get that out of the way. And then you can tell us more about your story, what you do and where you are now. So firstly, Tara, thanks for having me. It's an absolute pleasure to be talking with you today.

Mo Fazlie 02:11

So yeah, you can find me on LinkedIn, mainly, some quite active on there. So where do I start? I'm originally from Sri Lanka, born and brought up there, moved over to Malaysia to do my undergrad at the University of Nottingham, I studied civil engineering. And also did do a year in the UK, where I got a bit of experience in terms of culture, and in terms of, you know, being able to study there as well. So right after finishing my undergrad, I quickly moved over to the Middle East where it was quite buoyant for work at the time, there's a lot of construction going on, you know, I took a I took a gamble, I got a visa and I went there looking for work, actually, I didn't have a job by hand, three months in, you know, looking for work, going door to door handing out CVS, I got my first opportunity with fng. You know, thank God for that, you know, started off as an assistant Qs on this massive infrastructure project. And, you know, I quickly sort of moved through the company, getting into the Atkins Graduate Development Programme. So Atkins and fng are part of this, you know, this umbrella company, you know, where fng is the subsidiary of Atkins. So, yeah, so I quickly moved over to Atkins, you know, worked beside the director of infrastructure, where got heaps of experience in terms of, you know, working on a very strategic level

Mo Fazlie 03:54

from tackling issues such as operations management, to bids and tenders to also working with, you know, your, you know, multiple, you know, disciplines for various projects, not just, you know, within fraud, but also rail as well.

Mo Fazlie 04:11

So, yeah, so, um, right after that, you know, working you know, as, again, an assistant QSR, assistant engineer, I moved over with Atkins, also, to a different project, you know, on this larger metro project, to work as a structural engineer. So, yes, from being assistant Qs to, to a structural engineer took a lot of convincing and a lot of effort as well, but I knew that I wanted to pursue my ICE chartership and get my technical experience, experience. So yeah, so that's where I really got my footing in terms of working with multidisciplinary teams working with teams based locally and teams based overseas, in Nova, you know, five different countries, from Hong Kong to India to the UK, to Dubai, and now I'm in front. Just like you Tara.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 05:19

So you're learning another language. So you're learning French?

Mo Fazlie 05:23

Yes, that's correct. So French. That's that's been? It's been quite a challenge, though, to be honest, because I do know a few languages. But obviously, again, having learned French back in school, you know, just the basics, I would say, but I didn't really think that it would be as hard but obviously, you know, living in France is a is a whole different thing. So yeah, so the learning, I mean, again, I would consider myself at this point to be an intermediate speaker, or at an intermediate level, but there's just so much to learn. And it is a challenge. For sure. Yeah. Learning the local language. Yeah, well, I take my hat off to you. Because it sounds like you speak a few different languages. So you speak French, English. And what's your native language? So I think I mean, again, my my mother tongues, Tamil, and then there's Sinhalese, which is another spoken language in Sri Lanka. And then obviously, you've got your Arabic and I did learn a fair bit of Russian in school or not know, in school, sorry, in university. So yeah, so I do like learning languages in general. But obviously not as, you know, I haven't gone into the depths of of any language as much as I have with French and English, I would say. But, yeah. So these are some of the languages that I've dabbled with. So far.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 06:57

I would like to take you back. So I think it would be really great to talk about your language learning experience. So you were telling me earlier that you did your eyelets. So you went and did your ILT. And you got a 6.5 on your Isles. And so you really had to work hard to improve your English and you sound like you've done lots of work to improve your English. So if I can take you back, where at what point? Did you do your IELTS. Did you move from Dubai to somewhere or what? What led you to doing your IELTS test?

Mo Fazlie 07:38

Yeah, that's, that's a good question. And takes me takes me back. So yeah, so I did my Isles right after university. Or, actually, it was during university where I had plans to move over to Australia right after. So obviously, a prerequisite for my visa being that I do an English language exam. So at the time, you know, my English, my English, you know, wasn't wasn't so bad. But, yeah, so again, going back to Sri Lanka, you know, I studied in a, in a British core, where we will be, we were taught, you know, we followed the British curriculum, right from the start, you know, do my own levels and advanced level A levels. See, I was only English and French, surprisingly, that I learned. So, yeah, you would think that I would have a good base in English, but it wasn't the case. Till obviously, much later on, where I saw a lot more value in terms of learning and really progressing further in, in my pursuit to get get better in English. So I felt, you know, in Malaysia, I take the test, and surprisingly, I did not go very well. You know, it was obviously, these tests are structured by structured for, for, for good reason. You know, I scored really poorly on the speaking test and my writing tests. And it gave me a an overall score of 6.5. And that was really demoralising. It was disheartening. And I was like, man, what, how is even possible, like, I mean, because in university and obviously, you know, being in a multicultural sort of context where you're, and also given that I was working with the student association, sort of mingling with other nationalities, other cultures, so I didn't sort of think too much about my, my language abilities I was able to communicate and so on, but this test really pushed me down and then I was just like, Man, I'm going to get better that that was my mindset, like from From that day onward,

Mo Fazlie 10:03

So one of the things that I did was, was take up more reading, really. So I read a lot more books. So that's when I started actually reading a lot more books. And also, I would make a lot more of a conscious effort to pay more attention to the words that I used. And the words that I that that I would hear from, let's say, speakers who are actually native, but who are better speakers than I was, I mean, I would take my phone, I would open up notes, and I would jot the words down that I would that would hear, and I wouldn't just write the definition for it, I would, I would write down the context in which it was told. So in a sentence, I was told, I was like, ah, Okay, interesting. Okay, so this is what I heard. So, I mean, I quickly filled up that, that sort of that that note, with, with full of words, which I could always sort of go back and forth with, and I could always I would try and model this. So if I heard a word, you know, a new word in a particular day, I will try and use it on that very same day. So it would sort of would register in my head in my subconscious mind.

Mo Fazlie 11:20

So yeah, so these were the small steps that I, that I took from that day onward. And sort of moving forward to the Middle East, where, you know, I was, you know, so fng and Atkins, there are, they are a British firm, and even the projects that I was working on, you know, the majority of, of the cohort of people, there were, were British, you know, even Americans and Australians. So there was this this mix of, you know, you know, English speakers like native English speakers. So, yeah, so I quickly, so that's where I saw a lot of accelerated learning and growth in the English language.

Mo Fazlie 12:06

So, you know, I would get pronunciation wrong, too, I would get, you know, the use of certain words, you know, how would you try and use these complex words, but then later, you know, you know, I find that through, obviously, other people telling me and so on that this is not the way we speak, or this is not, I mean, this is not really efficient use of an efficient use of the word, you know, you should try and limit your use of jargon, or you limit your use of, you know, complex words make it simple. So, that was another challenge again, you know, it was like, Okay, interesting. So I thought, you know, the more vocabulary you had, like the, the more extensive your vocabulary. Vocabulary was, you know, the more you could sound like a native or the more the better you, the better, you'd be understood by other people, like, especially natives. But I was wrong again. So which meant, okay, so I got into the habit of watching vlogs. So vlogs, like YouTube, vlogs, you know, of native English speakers, I could connect a lot better in terms of how they use it in a more informal context, rather, in a formal context. Because even in a business environment, you'd see a lot of informal conversation, it isn't just meetings and so on, where you're talking to stakeholders in a, in a formal sort of way.

Mo Fazlie 13:35

You know, so, again, I was, you know, I try and again, it's just my innate nature to try and be better in something. So if I put my head to something, it's like, I really need to work on this. And I always hold myself accountable. It's like, I look, it's that that's, that's how I am wired, I'd say. So again, knowing this, I, you know, I took up, you know, I watch heaps of YouTube videos, not for the sake of just watching them, like it would be like, in a very educational manner, I would write things down. I would, I would be like, I would try and model it again. So I, and I think it, it did work, it did help. But I also think, you know, a lot had to do with my, my resilience and my, my way of consciously trying to put the effort to get better. And I think that helped like, but also, again, I didn't, I didn't really bother too much about how I came across. I would also I would always try and critique myself as well in terms of like, Oh, I could have said this in a much more simpler way. Or I could have said said this in a way where it would have, you know, struck a chord a lot stronger with someone or certain things like this. So I would always go back and you know, go back to the books, so to speak, and try and get better. So this journey of getting better, and so on and so forth, it still continues to this day. But, but yeah, and I think a lot of the the small sort of marginal things that I've done really helped so that that whole idea of, of compound, you know, compound learning compound, anything, you know, I think it takes a bit of time, but so yeah, so when you do put the conscious effort to get better at something, and you've got, like, a good environment around you, where you can sort of model behaviour, you know, from natives or, or you can you can, you can be sort of humble enough to go ask them like, oh, like, how do you pronounce it? Am I pronouncing it right? Like, how would you pronounce this or if you think that, that's, that's something that that you feel quite strongly about, like you want to improve on?

Mo Fazlie 15:55

I think having a coach, or having someone like yourself, Tara, you know, would really accelerate their learning, you know, which, quite frankly, I did by myself. But obviously, you know, having a coach having someone like you to bounce off ideas and questions off of like, I think would make a tremendous, tremendous amount of difference.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 16:19

It sounds like to one of the things that you've done really well is listen to people and take on feedback and, and be okay with taking on feedback and be okay, with not always being correct all the time. Does that sound like it's been something that's helped you a lot?

Mo Fazlie 16:39

Absolutely. And I think, again, I think it's just in my nature to just keep asking questions. So I don't really I mean, I'm not I'm not too concerned with, with, obviously doing it in a very, you know, very humble and very, sort of transparent, like, non egotistical manner. So I think that's why I learned the power of like, asking questions and asking for feedback. Really, what can I do better? Like, I mean, like, and like even listening to know people love. In general, I'd say like, even if it's like directors, or even like, senior, you know, managers, they love talking about that journey. They're where they've been, what they, you know, what they've accomplished. So, like, even if you want to ask something like, oh, like, how do you talk? Like, how do you present tech presentations, like so confidently? Or like, how do you write these reports?

Mo Fazlie 17:34

So like, I mean, so in a way, where you know, where you're supposed to write it, or like, how you take meeting notes, for instance, you know, did that come? Like? Did you just have those abilities? Or did that take a bit of time to learn? Even as a native speaker? You know, and most of them not that bit like no, I mean, obviously took a lot of hard work, it took a lot of that compound learning over time. So yeah, so when I asked those questions very early on, like, I was like, Okay, so that's what I, that's what I need to do to then. So I think, obviously, again, like having a good support system around you to really bounce off questions from really, really helps.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 18:19

Yeah, absolutely. I think that's really important. What you're saying about having your mentors, your mentors can be your senior leaders, or the people that your your colleagues who are doing things in a way that you would like to be able to do them. So being able to recognise that and ask some questions, I think is really important. I think it's really interesting listening to your English journey and and seeing how you've, where you've come from, to where you are now, I think that's so essential for people to be able to hear that and to know that it's possible to go from getting a 6.5 on the IELTS and, and feeling so confident now with your English. I think that's fantastic. So I think I think it's really important that you've shared that story. So thank you, I really want to talk now about your work as a structural engineer, and where you've come from and working with architects working with landscape architects, what are some of the things that you like about working with architects and landscape architects?

Mo Fazlie 19:21

So yeah, so that's a really good question. And yeah, takes me back again, you know, working as a structural engineer, in this in this massive real design and build project where we were the lead designers, there was a lot of cross coordination between not just architect architects, but with other disciplines as well MEP, for instance, key to how we build those BIM models. And I think we you know, working with a company like Atkins on this major project, we established good governance and good assurance frameworks right from the start. To enable a good collaboration, you know, open, you know, trust, you know, Trusting Trust for collaboration. And so it made us it made it quite easy for us to communicate that issues between the structures, teams, the structural teams, and the architectural teams. And even the way we were sat, we were sat right next to each other. So there was a lot of conscious effort put into how we collaborate, and how we'd get our ideas, ideas flowing between one another. So, yeah, so from working, obviously, taking, you know, the architectural models, be it you know, our underground non station structures, to, you know, tunnelling structures, you know, we needed all the simple we can we could get from architectural friends, on the other side of the desk.

Mo Fazlie 21:01

So, yeah, so, and I think, you know, the one thing that that I remember was that even, you know, the architects that I was working on, they had a lot of insight and wisdom, a wisdom and, and knowledge in terms of what we, as structural engineers did, and, or, yes, so in terms of how they build their architectural models, or how they build their design, then they'd no particular characteristics of, okay, we cannot just, you know, use a cantilever here, we'd have to take into consideration the joints, the the aspect of, of, you know, the loading to how this would obviously, the choice in materials to how this would play a role in in terms of the structural modelling, because, and I think that, obviously, and also working so closely with one another, really helped in terms of delivering so efficiently designed, you know, our reports to our designs, and even the changes, right, because we were working in that BIM sort of environment, it was easy for us to sort of come together, process these changes together in these sort of sprint, like, you know, meetings that we'd have every step of the way. So yeah, I for one, remember, you know, quite vividly that there wasn't any issues as such, between the architects and structural engineers, because we'd work quite well together.

Mo Fazlie 22:40

But even when there wasn't a lot of room for argumentative speech, he was always, you know, haha, it was always, you know, what, what can we do better to achieve the same goal in the strict sort of timeframe set where we can achieve a win win between each other, and obviously, because of that BIM working environment, there was, obviously, you know, we do clash detection, as well, to understand, you know, how, you know, MEP models, architectural models, and structural models, and so on, would line up, it was quite seamless, in that sense, working with one another in this sort of multidisciplinary format. And I think it was all attributes to, again, the fact that we had good governance measures, we had good people around there, I was fortunate enough to see this and like, you know, also build my standards and my benchmarks in terms of what I expect, with collaboration. And especially with architects,

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 23:38

often a landscape architect, for example, I know, you know, having worked as a landscape architect, and an architect as well, we come with very creative solutions. And I love working with structural engineers, because they make these creativity, these creative solutions come to life. So I guess that's, that's something that you have to deal with is that idea of making sure that the creativity remains, but then the structural integrity is retained, and that you're not conflicting with each other. And, and I love what you were talking about, before we were recording, talking about empathy, and making sure that you're understanding everyone's aspect of the project. So is that sort of something that you've noticed a lot and working with architects and landscape architects together?

Mo Fazlie 24:30

Absolutely. And I think empathy is is is a massive requirement for making, you know, cross collaboration work in this particular context, because architects they've got their own sort of map of the world, the structure engineers, they've got their own map of the world, but you've got to meet them sort of like halfway or in there sort of map of the world. So, in order to do that, you got to understand, you know, things from from either architectural point of view structural point of view. So it's really important to deploy empathy by each discipline. So we can sort of produce these creative structures, or these these designs where they're not just efficient and economical. But they're also elegant. You know, that's the, that's the whole idea behind, you know, these designs that were there sort of bringing forward and changing that, sort of, you know, being able to add to that built environment of ours, have you come to appreciate the work of an architect and the work of a landscape architect? Yeah, absolutely. So, I mean, I've worked with architects in a real environment, as well as a landscape architect in a landscaping environment. So I'd say, because I worked in a design office as a structural engineer, and as a project manager, on site, it was, it was quite different in terms of how we collaborate, and how we, you know, just again, go about our day, because on site, it was, it was quite interesting in terms of how we liaise with our subcontractors, our landscape, you know, subcontractors, and, and even our meetings with all and stakeholder stakeholder management, for instance, because when it's a landscape architectural, you know, landscaping project, you know, you've got to work really closely with your stakeholders, which I mean, in this, in this case, the client,

Mo Fazlie 26:34

you know, the department who approves sediment pond species to the design, the key plan for your landscape design, so if there are any changes in obviously, you know, that would take, that would take, you know, the, the creative aspect of it would take precedence over, let's say, a more, you know, a technical structural, you know, aspect of, of the design. So, I saw it quite, it was quite different in the sense of, because, on site, you're working with different species, you know, you've got two different species of plants, two different, the different other variables in terms of, you know, your weather, you know, in the Middle East, you've got to, again, the idea behind how we select even our plant species, you've got to understand your, your, the water intake, to the grooming to the weather, obviously, you know, where you've got, like, 50 degree weather for like, six months to seven months out of the year, certain things like this. So, you know, it really gives you that, that as a structure engineer, that gives you that appreciation for how, you know, even even certain projects like that, you know, it was this, this project in itself was a was a 25 million euro euro project. So it was, it was massive. So working, you know, with, again, there was a bit of, you know, push from the landscape architects at the start, because, yeah, sure, like, I want to be as transparent as as I can. Because obviously, you're working as a project manager, you're working with the strict timeline, you got your budget, you know, you've got your scope, you got to work towards that, you know, any changes, you know, obviously, you got to think twice about it, you've got to understand the change mechanism, how that plays into a lot of things, you know, the risks, all of that. And at the time, there are a lot of low probability, high impact risks, you know, we there was a political sort of boycott going on, and obviously, our supply chains were disrupted. So we had to think on our feet, obviously, as a landscape architect, you know, they brought in a brought in various alternatives, you know, and I saw that to be really inspiring in terms of, obviously, you've got to, as a structure engineer, I could never do that, like in terms of how you'd seek our different options, in terms of the design aspect of it, like the, the sort of the, the, the elegant sort of part of it, right, what kind of pants PCs, can we actually, you know, Can we can we alternate? Can we take as an alternative to this and this and this? And so, yeah, I mean, and again, obviously, going through that, that process of understanding and and trying to meet the landscape architect in their map of the world. And, and having that a PC appreciation and also understanding, okay, I can't just look at time, cost and scope. You know, I got to look at, you know, the benefits aspect of it, like the benefit, realisation of that project, and obviously, the landscape architect is your critical friend, you've and she, in this case, she's really important to

Mo Fazlie 30:00

This, so where they was, you know, the hardscaping aspect of it, you know, are we going to use a Keystone wall we can use, you know, gabion walls or are we going to use just, you know, riprap, on the embankments on these junctions or, you know, so looking at not just a structural point of view, but also the the, the aesthetics of it, because you're working on site, you can see all of this come to fruition at the, you know, when you make these decisions, rather than, as opposed to when you work in the design office, you know, you're just working with your architects in a very sort of black and white sort of, frame of mind. So it's really, it was really interesting for me to sort of get this, this this, these different, differentiating sort of points of view between like architects, as well as, you know, landscape architects. So yeah, so I've got, yeah, a lot of respect, and a lot of, obviously, appreciation for what they do. Definitely.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 31:10

It sounds like, sometimes, you don't always see eye to eye, but you have to somehow meet in the middle. And that's a really important aspect of working with a multidisciplinary team. So when you're working with structural engineers, when you're working with architects, landscape architects, as you, as you were saying, I love what you were talking about referring to understanding their map of the world, because we all do see the world very differently. So one thing I'm really interested in, is talking about with you, because obviously, we have to ask these questions, we have to try and make sure we all understand each other. And you and I were talking about making sure that you be the full so sometimes you have to ask those really hard questions. What would be your advice to somebody say they're starting out? Or say that they're worried about asking questions? What would you say to them? Based on your experience,

Mo Fazlie 32:08

I'd say be the fool. So yeah, I mean, as I take this sort of term from, from Simon Sinek, you know, he's written multiple books on this, you know, is, is a, quite a is a very famous author. So being the fool, obviously, resonated quite, quite strongly with me, because, and I think just looking at my journey with, within my career, on how I worked as an assistant, QMs, and sort of, you know, sort of went through the ranks of, you know, ultimately ending up as a as a project, project manager. You know, and it wouldn't have been possible if I hadn't, if I wasn't constantly asking, asking those questions asking these questions, or why do we do this? Is there a reason why, why, where, why we've got to, you know, why we've got to include all of these documents, for instance? Or, or why do we have to write it this way? Or certain things like this? Or? Yeah, and I think, for me, it was very clear early on that, I mean, I couldn't sort of progress further if I didn't ask these critical questions, before taking on a task or going about my sort of day to day sort of responsibilities. So I needed clarity early on, because I knew, you know, I was quite aware. I think, even at the time very, as, as young as I was, you know, on the the secondary and the tertiary sort of effects I would have, like, if I didn't ask those questions early on, you know, and it wouldn't just make my life miserable. But it would give me a clearer sort of picture in terms of okay, this is my roadmap, this is this is what I need to do. So it's quite clear. See, I think, for me, being that fool really helped in terms of not just understanding the the task at hand with a bit more clarity but also building rapport with people you know, a lot of senior managers or directors love it when you when you bring a bit of friction into the team where you're not just okay because a lot of managers they just what they want to do is look at the task and, and and try and complete it as fast as possible or within the means possible, you know, with less friction with less sort of obstacles along the way. And it is like up to you know, his own or her subordinates to, to really push the brakes and be like, hang on, like, why are we doing this? Like, why are we doing it like this? Can we not do it like this instead, don't you think that it would make things a lot easier, or it would give us a better outcome? So, you know, and a lot of managers really appreciate this, when you sort of bring them to, to their consciousness, so to speak, and, and you start asking these questions, you're like, Oh, hey, and they start thinking to themselves, like, hang on a minute, oh, God, you actually right? Like, we can actually do it this way. And, and that builds rapport. And when you build rapport, you're building trust, and that that sort of trickles down into everything else, you know, your reputation, you know, in not just your team, your, your firm, and so on and so forth. And that creates this massive ripple effect. And, yes, so really being The fool has, has so much more positives than you can imagine. So for anyone out there who, honestly, whether it's in a meeting, or in a in a sort of an informal setting, obviously, when the time is right, you know, when it's acceptable, and if you've got something stuck in your head or stuck in the back of your head, don't be afraid to, you know, just put up your hand and ask it in, ask a question in a very, you know, not just an objective way, but in a very intentional way. And in a very, in a way where it doesn't come across as as you know, as as as too direct or too assertive. But you're doing it in a very polite way where you're really trying to understand something for not just your own benefit for the benefit of your team. And so and so there's a there's, there's, there's a finesse behind this. But definitely when you start asking these questions, with the right intention in mind, it comes quite quite easily, then so yeah, so be the full.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 37:04

Yeah, great. I'm glad that you said that. Because it's something that I talk about a lot with my clients, about encouraging them to put themselves out there. Because I think as you say, it does two things. It builds rapport, well, maybe three things, it builds rapport, it builds trust, but it also builds confidence in yourself. So the more times you do that, and you're willing to be wrong, or you're willing, you're willing to say it's okay, if I'm wrong, and people are seeing that I'm willing to take a risk, then it just the more that you do it, the easier it becomes. So thank you for sharing that I think you couldn't have I couldn't have said it better myself. So

Mo Fazlie 37:43

it's no 100% 100%.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 37:47

Yeah, I also think it helps us to be more open to understanding other people and how they work. So exactly what you were talking about before working with architects working with landscape architects, understanding how they see the world and that sort of thing. One thing I want to touch on before we finish actually is so you and I have been talking about the Culture Map recently. This is something that is really opened my eyes and my mind up to the world. So what are some of the things that you've taken away from the book?

Mo Fazlie 38:19

Wow. So again, I've taken a lot of a lot of value from this book. So at the time, even, I mean, you know, me personally, I've lived in over six countries, I've worked with probably over like, 20 to 30 nationalities at one given time. And so, yeah, it was, it was important for me. In for me, especially then, like, I was, like, I'm, I'm quite adaptable to changing situations and changing environment. For me, you know, it comes quite easily in terms of even when I do speak to people, I understand that I need to sometimes like, sort of dumb it down, or try and slow my, my pace, or my tonality, and so on and so forth. So for so when I read this book, you know, the Culture Map, you know, it's sort of it really reinforced a lot of what I do and why I do it. So and it was quite funny, in terms of, or, and also, obviously, very insightful terms of how, you know, different countries, you know, you know, expect different different things, different behaviours, and now living in France, right, where we've talked multiple times on on, you know, the cultural differences here. And even for me being that chameleon, right, I find it quite hard, adjusting to the culture here. But now with Aaron Meyers culture map, I was able to really, you know, understand why They do certain things and certain behaviours. And just as an experiment, I tried it on my own Mrs. Who's Who's French and her family as well, it was actually a Drew. So again, it's a reminder, obviously, there's a lot of research behind it. But yeah, again, just trying to understand, you know, how, you know, how you communicate how you give feedback to how you persuade, how you lead to how you how decisions take place, how, you know, trust is formed, how, you know, how you disagree on certain things to how people view time, you know, so the, the different attributes that Aaron Meyers, my, my talks about? So yeah, it was a revelation in terms of, you know, how we see one another and how we, we should actually, I mean, it might be, obviously, a lot of people think that when we talk about cultural differences, that, you know, we're just making these these generalisations on cultures, but it's really not the case, you know, there are certain ingrown sort of embedded behaviours that you don't even seem to understand. Because subconsciously, you always you always, regardless of where you come from, and so on, you will always sort of take, you know, take with it, wisdom to, to, to how you behave, for instance, like your behaviours from that, that that original culture that you that you that you were from, even if your culture changed, you know, over time. So it was really important for me to see those differences, and also be able to map those differences, whether it was between France and Germany, to Germany and China, for instance, to to the eastern part of the world, you know, so obviously, if you're working with multidisciplinary teams, you know, as I have in the past, you know, it's really crucial to understand, you know, how the attributes, as I said, before, you know, how it works, you know, how you make decisions to how you how you delegate and tasks? Like, do you need approval from their managers first before asking them to do these changes? Or how do you? How do you assist them? I mean, in terms of also your your, how you delegate work, you know, are you actually giving the right kind of information? Are you are you? Are you?

Mo Fazlie 42:35

Are you giving them sufficient enough information and information that they can understand, you know, not where you can particularly understand. So, I played again, going back to my time in the Middle East, you know, I played a massive role in terms of being that liaison between, like different cultures. So a lot of people will come up to me and be like, Oh, I didn't actually understand what, what, what the manager asked me, Do you think you can explain her? Or do you think you can repeat what he said? Or she said, and I would obviously go in, and I would change the way I spoke, and like, you know, you know, and obviously, being adaptable in that sense, to communicate certain, certain things like this in a more effective manner, was was really important. Because Because some cultures again, would wouldn't necessarily ask those questions. You know, if they needed more clarity, or they just say, yes, yes, yes. And that go straight to their desk and do something else. And then obviously, that would create rework later on, and so on, and so forth. So, again, sorry, sort of went on a few sort of detours there. But

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 43:49

again, they're good, good detours.

Mo Fazlie 43:52

Yeah, but a bit of, you know, just just again, in terms of how the book resonated with me, specifically, was that we should acknowledge, we should take into account these differences between different cultures, if you really want to get the maximum benefit out of the diverse teams that were part of. And more often than not, were always a part of diverse and multicultural teams. So it is really important to understand this and actually have, like, a map of it. of your own, like even whether it's in your head or even, like visually, like I've got like every Myers map, like on the wall right there. So I know like whenever I'm like looking at it, you know, it's like, Oh, I know, where how I need to adjust how I need to sort of, you know, how I need to convey some things. And, yeah, it definitely, definitely a big revelation in terms of how we should Looking at cultural differences, and how we should leverage it, really,

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 45:05

I just love when I hear other people having taken stuff from it too, because I'm always in France, as well, as you know, coming across some of these really challenging cultural differences. And actually, just yesterday, I had a situation where, you know, from where I come from in Australia, we're very explicit. So yeah, we mean exactly what we say. And so in France, it's, it's less explicit. So there's more kind of reading between the lines and trying to understand. So I had a Yeah, and I had a situation where some people assumed that I knew what they were talking about, or they, they assumed that I would know. And then so there was a miscommunication. Everyone was calling me they didn't know, we were supposed to have a lesson, I didn't know we were supposed to have a lesson. It was just a bit of a silly show. So it's, it's, it's something that I've come to realise now. And I'm sure you have to,

Mo Fazlie 46:05

yeah, I can definitely relate, for sure, like being here for just over a year, now. And these things tend to happen. And you're like, okay, but I, but that's the thing by being flexible, and being able to switch between task oriented to relationship based, you know, being explicit to implicit, you know, and understanding a culture again, where, you know, the native language isn't or, you know, it's it's just French, you know, English does not have a big presence here. So it's really, it's really funny, and it is, it is true on how these differences, and these misunderstandings take place over here.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 46:50

Yeah, absolutely. And I think you're right in terms of, it happens across cultures, and particularly in architecture, working with, particularly in a BIM environment, where you're working sometimes with consultants who come from Asian countries, working in Europe, you're working across cultures all the time. And I think I love what you were saying about making sure to be aware of the ways that certain cultures communicate, because we can have so many misunderstandings happening, so much rework. And, and it's really, if we went that further step to understand how we communicate across cultures, we would really understand more about how we can be more efficient and more effective. And that's something that I've definitely taken away from a lot of the people that I've worked with, as well, is that understanding of culture and trying to, you know, understand how it works best. And one classic thing that you were talking about, too, is you will say to somebody, do you understand? And they'll say yes, yes, yes, they go back to their desk. They do the work, but it's not exactly what you wanted. So exactly. Understanding that is really important.

Mo Fazlie 47:58

Yeah. And also, just on that note, you know, I always make it make it a pact, or, yeah, make a pact that, that when I do delegate work, or when I do ask someone to do something for me. And if it's in that, yes, sort of situation. And instantly know, if he or she didn't understand what I what I just asked him or her. So I'd be like, do Did you understand what I did? Or did? Is that clear? Does that does that make sense? For you? Do you want to repeat what I just asked the view, just so that you can you know, just so that you understood, you know, even consciously what I asked of you to do so certain things like this, like making asking the other person to repeat what was asked of him or her is is also a good tactic that you can use to re understand that, you know, that he or she knows what to do. And you can just let them get on with their with their work and know that you're going to get the end result that you foresaw or you the that you wanted? And so yeah, so expected. Yeah, that you expected. So interesting. Yeah, for sure. There are a lot of things that you can do, to make sure that you know that we work does not build up or chaos does not build up ultimately, to make sure that you know the other person, you know, that you're liaising with or you're giving work to really understand what they're supposed to do. And it's up to you, or if you're a manager, you know, or even if you're working, you know, with your other with with the other person next to you, you know if you're a BIM technician, or you know, you just another another engineer, you know, just making sure that the other person really understand what you're asking of him or her because more often than not, they'll just nod their heads because of pressures with time and pressures with, you know, make meeting demand. So taking those few seconds add to, to really make sure that everything sort of, you know, at the start is is is is said and is understood correctly really pays off. For sure.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 50:32

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, I think that's something that I have learned as well as a as a teacher is that if you ask somebody, does that make sense? And they can say yes or no, it doesn't really give you much information. So yeah, that that example that you said, like, can you explain to me exactly what I need or what my expectation is, I think that's a much better way of making sure that you're on the same page that you understand each other. So also, just talking about culture as well, I think when we were talking about being a structural engineer, working with architects working with landscape architects, I think that works the same way. Can you explain exactly what you mean by that? Because sometimes we don't always know exactly what we need to, to do, because we see things from different perspectives.

Mo Fazlie 51:20

Yes, 100%. And, also, the use of technical jargon, for instance, a structural engineer might not understand, you know, what the landscape architects talking about, or vice versa? So asking those questions, and really, again, being able to, you know, understand, you know, their map of the world, you know, is really key in terms of how you sort of not just, again, try and reach the best sort of outcome, but also develop those, those relationships between one another, because that's really important, not just for, you know, the time being, but for, you know, the whole duration of the project, or even after, for sure,

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 52:14

and one thing that I learned very early on in my career, so working as I worked in a multidisciplinary office, and I worked with structural engineers, civil engineers, planners, one of the things that I really appreciated with working with them is always asking questions, can you explain this, I had the advantage of being able to go from my desk and go and sit next to a structural engineer and say, Hey, can you explain this to me, whereas some, some practitioners don't necessarily have that they have to pick up the phone, or they have to make a meeting with them. And that was such a great advantage. And, and I think I took it for I took it for granted a little bit. When I worked in a multidisciplinary office. I think that's probably covered everything for today. We've covered a lot of ground, we've we've talked about language learning, we've talked about working in multidisciplinary teams, we've talked about being the fall. And we've also talked about cultural differences. Was there anything else that you feel like a burning need that you wanted to suggest or to talk about before we finish for today?

Mo Fazlie 53:22

I think I think we went down a few too many rabbit holes. Really? I could go on? We do. Yeah, I think I could just continue and just just keep going on just the topics we covered. So yeah, no burning desire to to ask any other questions. But I think the overarching thing that I want to sort of convey is, you know, you know, ask those questions and just keep learning and you know, things take time. And just always, you know, try and put yourself at the edge of fear. Because that's where a lot of the development and progression happens. So be with anything. So yeah. So that's, that's sort of a motto that I live by. And I think it's it's a dummy Well, so far.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 54:15

Yeah, I think it's great advice. So thank you very much FAS, I've loved having a chat to always love chatting to other consultants and learning more about what they do. So if anyone wants to find you, they can find you on LinkedIn, as we said before, and I'm sure you'd be happy to reach out and have a chat to them.

Mo Fazlie 54:34

Absolutely. I'm always always up for a chat, you know that. But yeah. Yeah. Likewise, it's been an absolute pleasure. You know, talking to you on these on these topics, and it would be great to do this again, I suppose.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 54:49

Yeah. Great. I would love to.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 54:51

Alright, well, thanks Faz and I will speak to you soon.

Mo Fazlie 54:54

Speak to you soon.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 54:56

That brings us to the end of the episode. As always, thanks again for Listening to think big English for architects. If you've enjoyed this episode, make sure you subscribe for more English tips and interviews with architects and share this episode with somebody who you think might find it useful. Remember, you can find the free podcast transcript with key vocabulary and useful expressions at archy So, next podcast is going to be the very last podcast of the season. I'm going to have a small break. So I hope you'll join me for that episode. And I look forward to sharing that one with you very soon.

Back to top


Have any questions about anything you've heard in today's episode? Send me an email.

Want to uplevel your communication skills to present your projects with more confidence? Find out more about my 1:1 & coaching programs. Find more examples to help you feel more prepared in our Coaching Guide, Planner and Language Guides.

116 views0 comments


bottom of page