If you attend Chamber business events regularly, chances are you’ve seen or spoken with Elizabeth Gradwell. A Chamber member for the past two years, Elizabeth often attends Chamber events, and participates in a MyBoard group . I met up with Elizabeth in Baulkham Hills recently to find out more about her business, and her experience as a member of the Sydney Hills Business Chamber.
Who is Elizabeth Gradwell?
Elizabeth is the founder and director of commercial interior design business, Gradwell Design, located in Bella Vista. With almost two decades of design experience, Elizabeth designs and arranges fit outs for commercial and retail premises, and particularly enjoys designing for cafes, medical premises, and for companies looking to create an innovative yet functional office environment that aligns with their brand.
She believes that the key to success for an interior designer, lies in building strong relationships with clients, and understanding both the organisational culture, and the experience the client wants to create in the space to be designed.
Elizabeth joined the Sydney Hills Business Chamber in 2015.
You need to get out more…
Already an experienced interior designer when she moved to Australia from South Africa some years ago, Elizabeth resumed her profession, working as a freelance designer from 2010 to 2015. It was then that she decided it was time to grow, and her business Gradwell Design was established.
It was about this time that her son gave her some advice she took to heart. “You need to get out more and mix with other business owners”.
Seeing the sense in this advice, Elizabeth joined the Sydney Hills Business Chamber, and threw herself into it wholeheartedly – attending events and joining a MyBoard Group. She rarely misses her fortnightly MyBoard meeting, and recently, when her original MyBoard Group disbanded (in part due to traffic congestion issues and the timing of the meetings), Elizabeth had no hesitation in finding a new MyBoard group to join.
“Chamber membership has been a journey of self-discovery for me from the beginning” she said. “I found MyBoard a bit confronting at first, but it turned out to be the type of challenge I value. It pushes me to keep raising the bar for myself.”
Elizbeth recalls a MyBoard meeting early on that was especially challenging. Nobody had prepared a talk for a regular MyBoard meeting segment called ‘Member in Focus’. The group members decided on the spot that Elizabeth should be the member in focus, and as she hadn’t prepared anything, they would ask questions about her business.
“I wasn’t prepared and it was terrifying. I didn’t know how to answer some of those questions. It felt like an interrogation. But I walked away from that experience knowing more about myself and my business, and feeling challenged to improve my ability to communicate information about my business to others. It felt like an awful experience in the moment, but it’s those experiences that propel you forward and help you grow as a person.
And when you grow as a person, your business benefits.”
Elizabeth plans to continue her MyBoard participation. She finds it a “valuable support structure”, enjoys the frequent engagement with other business owners and the feeling that she is contributing her experience to the group. But perhaps most inspiring of all, Elizabeth sees her commitment to participate in the MyBoard fortnightly meetings as a personal strategy that helps her to maintain the habits of being disciplined and organised – habits which are essential for success in any business.
The image below is one of Elizabeth's recent projects. You can check out more of the fabulous spaces Elizabeth has designed on her website.