• Norzam Darmin

The day when I started

Way way back in August 1990 when I passed my PAM Part III examination, I was quite uncertain whether to stay in the government or to start an architectural practice. It took me quite a while to decide. The economic climate at that time was neither promising. Malaysia have undergone few economic downturns before. Iraq was also at the verge of being attack by America at that time. Rumor were spreading saying that the economic situation would become even worse. However  I made my decision and in 15 October 1990 I tendered my resignation as senior architect then give them 3 month notice.

15 January 1991, Iraq was truly attacked by America but that was also the day when I first stepped into my own office, not anymore as somebody in the public sector. I was a bit shaky but I have made my decision then and to me there was no turning back. Actually I have nothing in hand, I mean, I got no project to start with. First, I spent some time preparing my company profile, doing in myself as I got only 2 staffs then , ie. Azhar and Zamri. They are no more with me now. 


I realized that marketing is not an easy job, even today. There are always many others who are better of then you, whose profile outclass yours, who have bigger capacity to deliver, with much experience, knowledge and are better equipped. However in reality, there are always something that will come across your path if you know how to leverage resources. Submitting CV is not the only to do, though that is an essential  tool to get people to know you. After almost 20 years in practice, I practically know quite a bit of what business is and what consultancy is. Association, collaboration, marketing a services are some of the keywords which we might talk later.

From then on, Norzam Architect started to have assignment. One after another, from real ones to something which are mere speculative. Of course, the small ones are sure jobs, like bungalows but its resource consuming. In early 90's there was a wave of what we called privatization projects. Normally it involved government lands and politically connected people. It was tiring because most of the project proposals did not go through. However I have made quite a handsome conversions when three of all that were submitted in early 90's materialized and later completed. I mean big ones.

Then in 1996 Malaysia, in fact most countries around this region were shocked with the financial crisis and economic melt down. Suddenly everything came to a stand still. Project stopped, site vacated, developer temporarily vanished, some of them forever. We are in economic recession. Nothing to spare and nobody was spared. Even the private clinics were quiet when companies cut down their expenditure including medical privileges.  Later we came to know there are businesses that are recession proof.

Since then the economy seems reviving but always shortcoming. We have to keep re positioning ourselves. Moreover there are the younger ones who now enter the market with fresh ideas and are more energetic. While the older ones become sort of 'specialized' and are more selective in accepting assignments. 


Norzam Darmin

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