Your Interview Charlotte May Croft
Introduce yourself (name, company, position, country) and tell us how you got into lighting design (including education/qualifications).
My name is Charlotte Croft and I work at Whitecroft Lighting based in the London Customer Centre as a ‘Lighting Applications Manager’. Within my current role I am responsible for the day to day running of the lighting design team and major project opportunities within the Whitecroft Lighting London team. In addition to these activities I support the marketing and commercial aspects within the London region. During my career to date I have proven myself to be reliable, honest and hard working. I deal well with customers/clients and work well as part of a team as well as an individual with over 10 years of experience in both Interior and Exterior Lighting. An interest driven through the technical, design and development of both product and the application of lighting. This is best serviced through close communication with the customer to understand their needs and working with them to establish the best solution.
My career began when I left school at 16 in 2006 – I was enrolled to begin college full time when I came across a ‘Junior Architectural Technician’ vacancy for a local house builder in the newspaper. I thought to myself – ‘Why Not!’ and applied, little did I know that three weeks later I was going to be offered the job. I have always been highly interested in Art/Design/Technology but then 2008 arrived and as the recession hit I was made redundant. It was during this break when I came across a vacancy for a ‘Lighting Technician’ at Mouchel in Stockport which sounded extremely interesting to me – I was successful again in this role and spent 2 years working on Major PFI Street Lighting projects throughout the UK. From here I decided it was time to learn more about the Interior Lighting side and I went to work for Troup Bywaters + Anders in Manchester as an Assistant Lighting Designer. This is where my love of lighting developed further – working on both conceptual and detailed designs the challenge of producing a lighting scheme to match the customer’s visions was mesmerising.
In 2014 I joined Whitecroft Lighting in Ashton-Under Lyne as a Lighting Designer, I instantly fell part of the team here and admired the way the company worked as a whole. From manufacturing, to product design to the sales team. In 2016 I was given the opportunity of a lifetime to move to Dubai for a year to form part of the Fagerhult Dubai team as a Whitecroft representative. This was a huge step for my career and I was in Dubai as part of the Fagerhult team for 3 years – moving back to the UK in May 2019. Moving back to the UK really highlighted not only to me but to my family and even to my colleagues, how much more confident, strong and enthusiastic a woman I had become. Leaving your family home at 26 alone to another country where you knew no-one was a very daunting thing but the most amazing thing that has happened to me.
In 2019 myself and my partner were given an opportunity to move back to the UK and be based in London. This is when I was presented with the role to become the Lighting Applications Manager back at Whitecroft Lighting based in the London Customer Centre. I love being back with the Whitecroft team and being in London which is an incredible city and a new challenge that I have grasped with both hands.
During my career I have completed both an ONC in Construction and a HNC in Electrical and Electronic Engineering. Luckily on the ONC in Construction I was 1 of 3 females (the other 2 are still now very good friends of mine). However, I was the only female out of 15 students on the HNC in Electrical and Electronic Engineering.
My qualifications to date include:
ONC in Construction
HNC in Electrical and Electronic Engineering
LIA – Certificate in Interior Lighting and Advanced Certificate in Interior Lighting
ILP – Exterior Lighting Diploma
AutoCAD – City & Guilds Level 3
Tell us about your work – is there a specific type of project you like to work on or an area you specialise in and why?
I love working on Major Projects – this began when I was working in Dubai.
Starting a job from a concept and seeing the project run through to completion is extremely rewarding especially when you get to view the lighting installed on site knowing the hard work you put in to the design.
Establishing relationships with each stakeholder on the Major Projects is not only beneficial for the project but also for your personal network growth.
Major Projects always have hurdles that need to be jumped clearly and to do this is not always simple – the challenge of completing this successfully to the customer’s requirements is extremely rewarding.
What is the biggest challenge that you have overcome in your career?
I would have to say the biggest challenge that I have had to overcome to date in my career is moving to Dubai without knowing anyone or what to expect was a huge challenge for me.
At 26 I was still living at home with my parents and then all of a sudden I was on a plane about to move 3500 miles away to a country that I had never visited with nothing but two suitcases.
The extreme difference in culture was tough at the beginning but I found myself adjusting to the way of life quickly and grasped the opportunity for what it was – an exciting journey in the next stage of my career.
It changed me for the better as an individual and quickly turned me in to a strong and confident women with the world as my oyster.
How does light inspire you?
Within day to day life lighting is undisputedly taken for granted (unless you are in our business when you spend more time looking up!).
Light inspires me as it has so many ways to affect us as people and the surroundings we live in:-
- from aesthetics,
- to moods,
- to wellbeing/health,
- to visual effects.
I love that I have an impact on how to illuminate spaces, I love that I can provide a lighting design that could brighten up someone’s day as they enter a space, I love that I have the ability to provide lighting to a hospital that could potentially improve the patient’s wellbeing and recovery.
Yes, there are several challenges but they are what make my ‘job’ enjoyable and worthwhile.
What is your message for other Women In Lighting?
My message for other Women in Lighting would simply be you are not alone!!!
Be strong, Be you and most importantly Believe in Yourself.
I am so thrilled to have come across this organisation that has been set up and after the webinar on 20 May 2020, I was truly inspired and motivated to become part of it.
Charlotte May Croft
“Be strong, Be you and most importantly Believe in Yourself.”