March 8, 2017 AMC Staff in Focus – Maria Gamboa

With 20 years’ experience under her belt, Filipino national, Maria Gamboa, knows a thing or two about architecture and design and she loves being able to apply her expertise to the design and delivery of Al Maryah Central on Al Maryah Island in Abu Dhabi, where Maria is employed as a Retail Delivery Manager.

“It is wonderful to be able to practice in my chosen profession, every day, and contribute creative ideas to the mall and tenancy fit-outs.  Having trained in the Philippines with some of the Country’s most notable architects, including Jose Siao Ling and Marcos de Guzman, it is a privilege for me to work on Al Maryah Central.” Maria obtained a BS Architecture at the University of Sto. Tomas in Manila and went on to obtain her Professional Architecture License in Manila and achieve a Masters in Project Management. She started her career in architecture as a draftsman and worked her way up to various roles as a Project Manager and Design Architect for a variety of residential and commercial projects in Manila and Singapore, before moving to the Middle East to be part of the Dubai Mall delivery team.

“Al Maryah Central is one of the biggest projects I’ve worked on, and by far, one of the most exciting.  It is the first mall in the UAE to offer multi-level department store blocks, and the first to truly offer everything under one roof.  The large-scale entertainment complexes, rooftop parks and plethora of recreational activities, including the library and community center, are very special proof points of just how unique Al Maryah Central is.”

Maria, who says that her team has a special bond, feels very lucky to work with a diverse group of professionals who are equally dedicated to delivering the project on-time, to the highest quality. “I’m very proud to be part of a delivery team who demonstrate an unwavering commitment to deliver something exceptional.  We did this on The Galleria – delivering a slick and modern mall – and we are doing it again on Al Maryah Central, where we are bringing a completely new mall offering to the Abu Dhabi market.” This is what attracted Maria to the region, and it’s what keeps her here – the growing demand to offer new, one-of-a-kind retail environments that are globally incomparable. “It’s a great challenge for me both professionally and personally to deliver something daring and innovative that appeals to an expatriate community while being sensitive to the local customer, culture and heritage of the region.  That’s what makes Abu Dhabi so extraordinary – the great mix of people and their cultures.”

As a design architect in a retail environment, Maria is primarily responsible for delivering retail designs, providing creative and innovative inputs, and working effectively with the service providers.  She also works with retailers and their designers as they develop their shop designs – making sure that Al Maryah Central’s design standards are adhered to, in terms of layout, materials, signage, illumination and shopfront design, to name a few.

Maria believes that women are increasingly attracted to the design and construction sector – particularly because of their ability to see things from a different perspective.  “Women are starting to make their mark, although, in a male-dominated industry, you need to step up and be heard.  There is no place for intimidation or fear of failure.  There is a need to deliver confidently and equally, or better.  But once it happens, and you are respected as a female designer, it is rewarding and your inputs are always seen as just as important as others around you. ”Her advice to other women in construction… “Be sensitive to your client and project needs, always be passionate about what you do, aim higher than you think you are capable of and be better than yourself.”