01 Jul 24

A new global chapter: Woods Bagot announces new CEO, Sarah Kay

Woods Bagot, the global architecture, interior design, and master planning firm operating across 17 studios worldwide, is pleased to announce the appointment of Sarah Kay to the position of CEO. Sarah will assume the role from July 1, 2024, leading the next step in Woods Bagot’s journey towards total place design, with an emphasis on how place design can positively impact society. Sarah succeeds Nik Karalis as CEO after his nine-year tenure and heralds a new chapter for the firm, which was founded in 1869 in Australia.

“I feel compelled as an architect, and now as a CEO, to have a positive impact through our work,” states Sarah, “as architects and place designers, we are perfectly positioned to have a positive influence on the world ahead of us. It is in fact our responsibility to have a leading voice in shaping our cities and our places with a long term, sustainable and socially responsible outlook. Woods Bagot is inherently collaborative, and I am excited and buoyed by the future that we can achieve by working together across our diverse skills and services across our industry.”

Sarah has been a member of the Woods Bagot leadership group for 25 years and a director for 15 years. A highly respected architect with an extensive international career spanning North America, Australia and the UK, Sarah has led and designed high-profile projects and integrated precincts across commercial, transport, residential and culture sectors. Most recently, Sarah has led Woods Bagot’s Sydney studio, a role she has also held in New York. As CEO, Sarah’s expansive business acumen will continue to broaden Woods Bagot’s impact through its diverse specialist brands such as ERA-Co, Customs Bureau, and sustainability consulting business Global Impact Group (GIG).

Sarah takes the reins from current CEO Nik Karalis, who was appointed CEO of Woods Bagot in 2015.  Under Nik’s guidance, Woods Bagot’s global net revenue increased by 33% and saw significant growth across the firms’ Transport, Cities and Places, Civic and Events, Health, Workplace, and Education and Science sectors. Nik’s tenure saw the business complete scores of complex projects including The Londoner, Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre, Collins Arch, The Amberly, Funan, IRENA Headquarters and Masdar City Square (MC2), and Minthis Hills.

“This is an incredible moment in our history. Driven to reinforce our shared excellence by amplifying the power of design, Sarah’s global career, strategic mindset, business leadership, board experience, and focus on cultural inclusivity make her an incredible leader capable of driving the next chapter of Woods Bagot forward,” says Nik.

Sarah takes over the leadership role at an exceptional time in the 150+ year history of Woods Bagot. The global studio has cemented its reputation as a design leader internationally, while simultaneously beginning to expand its service offerings beyond the core of architecture and interior design to include brand, urban strategies and user strategies – this combined offering has delivered some of the world’s most complex infrastructure projects.

Woods Bagot currently has 17 studios working across five geographic regions including Australia and New Zealand, China, Europe, the Middle East, and North America. Employing more than 800 professionals, the company works across multiple sectors: Aviation, Cities & Places, Civic & Events, Education & Science, Health, Hotels, Mixed-use, Rail, Residential, Retail, Workplace Architecture and Workplace Interiors.