Written | 14 Jul 2021

Laurent and Arnela de Senneville met on the job in Qatar years ago. In 2019, they quit their jobs to move back to Mauritius and start their own company. With LADS Consultants, they give life to their innovative ideas and navigate through the challenges of entrepreneurship all amidst an unprecedented pandemic. They tell us their story 👇

Tell us more about you, your background and everything that brought you up here!

Arnela de Senneville (ADS): I’m an architect with a Masters degree in Architecture and Urban Planning from Bosnia & Herzegovina. Most of my experience is related to interior design as well, so I can do the full package: planning, architecture and interior design.

I started full-time work after finishing my studies in a small design studio called Firma. I’ve worked there for two years and have been directly involved in 15 small and mid-scale projects from design, architecture and urban design.

Laurent de Senneville (LDS): I’m a Professional Quantity Surveyor (PQS) with a great deal of experience in Project Management and Information Management. I worked for General Construction in Mauritius right after school, while doing my diploma in Quantity Surveying part-time, after working hours and during weekends. I then moved to the UK where I completed 2 degrees: one in construction commercial management and one in quantity surveying. I continued working for General Construction upon my return to Mauritius, before moving to Faithful+Gould (F+G) in 2015, where I was sent straight away on the Doha Oasis project. I further completed via distance learning a Masters in Building Information Modelling and Management and graduated with Merit.

What’s LADS Consultants all about?

LDS: It’s a consultancy company in the construction industry providing Quantity Surveying and Design services and associated services. The idea being: to bring the latest innovation and the latest ways of working on projects, helping clients and the team in successful projects by bringing innovation and our expertise from abroad.

We believe that having skilled, motivated and dynamic people involved in projects makes a huge difference. Some would say consultants are just wasting time on projects but I completely disagree. If you have the right consultants, you will go far.

“With the way our profession is by design; it has always been easier to work for ourselves. It is all about flexibility in working hours and productivity. As your own boss, you do as you believe is best for your clients and subsequently your business.”

What expertise are you bringing to the Mauritian market?

LDS: We are a company highly oriented toward innovation and the use of cloud-based tools. We use the latest trends and set ourselves to the highest standards.

We contribute, raise awareness, and help with the implementation of Building Information Modelling and Management on projects. This involves using the latest technologies, for example, using 3D instead of 2D or online tools for better information transfer.

BIM is a new concept in the construction industry, all about collaboration and the use of the latest technologies, processes and protocols. The concept is starting to boom and big corporations in Mauritius are now starting to understand the value of working in a more collaborative environment for their projects.

You started at The Hive Beau Plan from the very opening, what drove your choice to grow your business here?

LDS: As consultants, we work on different projects around Mauritius and The Hive makes it easier for us to operate. For instance, we are currently working on a project in Blue Bay and, with multi-location workplaces, we were able to hold meetings at The Hive Curepipe. The same goes for our projects in the North, where The Hive Beau Plan is convenient. At The Hive, we can offer flexibility to our clients and create a better environment for collaboration.

Do you have a preference when it comes to the projects you choose to work on?

ADS: At the moment we don’t choose [laughs] but if we get to the point where we can allow ourselves to, renovation projects would be our choice.

I personally love upscaling everything old and that has value. I chose my master’s degree in History of architecture and my thesis was a boutique hotel within a very old environment protected by UNESCO. At the same time, I also needed to build something new within and create a usable space. So far I haven’t been able to work on a big heritage preservation project but there’s a lot of potential in Mauritius.

“As consultants, we work on different projects around Mauritius and The Hive makes it easier for us to operate. We can offer flexibility to our clients and create a better environment for collaboration.”

You’ve worked for corporates most of your professional life. What made you choose entrepreneurship over joining yet another corporate?

ADS: I don’t believe in traditional working hours. There are days where you’re busy and you need to stay longer hours. There are days where there is less work to do, so you can use it to do something for yourself or your family, rather than sitting in the office. Moreover, it is difficult to implement and impose your way of working in already existing structures and companies.

With the way our profession is by design; it has always been easier to work for ourselves. It is all about flexibility in working hours and productivity. As your own boss, you do as you believe is best for your clients and subsequently your business.

What are the biggest challenges you face as entrepreneurs?

LDS: We have few opportunities right now because of the restrictions to meet people, present our ideas and market ourselves. Secondly, because of the economical situation, developers and clients take fewer risks in projects and are putting some projects on hold. It is very challenging to find companies that want to innovate during such times; it wouldn’t have been the case if not for COVID and the impacts it’s had.

And how do you adapt to that?

LDS: We are adapting to it by compromising. By offering less of what we can do to fit into the current way of working and by not imposing our way of doing things. We are working as much as we can with new tools or processes, while still following the way our stakeholders work. We also need to work within an extremely competitive market and adjust our fees accordingly.

In-house we still bring innovation to projects and we don’t impose it. If any stakeholder is interested in benefiting from that innovation they are welcome to join us on that journey. Some do use our tools and some don’t. Essentially, we are pushing for change but in a very subtle way.

We started the LADS journey at probably the most difficult economic time of the decade, but remain positive for the future of the business. We are working hard to show our commitments to clients and the future of the industry and business. Even if it means taking a different approach than originally intended. We remain flexible, collaborative and where the opportunity presents itself, innovative.

Learn more about LADS Consultants here 👈


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