Maddy Nolan is quickly making her mark as a member of the interior designer team in the Oklahoma City office of Benham, a Haskell Company.

May 19, 2021

Up-and-Coming Haskell Designer Earns Her NCIDQ Certification

Oklahoma through and through, Benham's Maddy Nolan puts her interior design knowledge to the test and propels her career to a new level.

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Maddy Nolan now has important letters behind her last name.

The Haskell interior designer recently became Maddy Nolan, NCIDQ, having earned the prestigious National Council for Interior Design Qualification certification by displaying the practical professional knowledge necessary to pass a rigorous three-part, 11-hour examination.

Nolan, 26, works at Benham Design, a Haskell corporation in Oklahoma City, where she’s worked since receiving her bachelor’s in Interior Design from the University of Oklahoma. She’s Oklahoma through and through: She lives in Norman in the house she bought from her father. She married her high school sweetheart, who played on the University of Oklahoma offensive line. Her uncle is Steve Owens, the 1969 Heisman Trophy winner from OU.

From the start, she knew that getting her certification was a critical part of her career path. From her first day on the job, Maddy focused on accruing the required number of hours necessary to sit for the exams.

“She knows how to present herself in a professional way,” said Kelley Hayes, the Lead Interior Designer for Benham. “Not everyone coming out of college understands this. Maddy is very social and outgoing. She immediately pitched in and met every challenge we threw at her.”

Last year, the test became a major part of Nolan’s life. Four days a week, she spent her evenings reading books, watching videos and making flashcards. There were online programs and practice tests.

“They tell you why they are asking the questions. They want you to take what you know and apply it to situations,” she explained.

Under normal circumstances, the proctored exam is only administered twice a year. Nolan intended to sit for it in April 2020, but that testing date was canceled because of COVID-19, so she had to wait until November.

She said the testing location was like going into lockdown. All her possessions – phone, purse, keys – were placed in a locker. Test administrators searched her for any crib notes. They even inspected her eyeglasses to make sure nothing was hidden in the frames or on the lenses.

“When I walked in, I was nervous,” she said. “I wanted to pass the test the first time. I wasn’t going to let myself fail this test. I think having test jitters was a good thing. It showed I cared."

Shortly after the test, she received an email that told her that she “likely” passed the test. She learned a week before Christmas that it was official.

Nolan was in her office at Benham when she got the email. The effusive young woman wanted to tell the world that she passed. Unfortunately, most of the team was out of the office on Christmas break. Even Hayes was gone, although she was the first to hear the news.

“Now I feel more confident in what I say regarding projects,” Nolan said. “I have proved to myself and my co-workers that I know what I am talking about. I will still always ask questions, but I have more confidence in myself.”

Nolan’s work is varied, and she regularly designs several different projects at the same time. Her office floor is scattered with a plethora of paint swatches and design ideas, she said. She has designed interiors for several military projects, including hangers, offices and fitness centers.

At one early project, the client, a military officer, proved difficult to please. He didn’t like any of her suggestions. That was until she showed him a bright red tile she intended to use as an accent in a kitchen. He wanted that red used as much as possible.

“A lot of this is not set in stone. You can’t go from one project to the next and do the same thing. You have to be able to change gears and make the client happy. That makes it fun and interesting,” she said.

Working for Haskell has been a good fit. Even though she’s young, she’s progressively received more responsibility. She remembered Hayes calling her in to discuss two new projects. Nolan hadn’t been with the company for a year when Hayes told her the projects were hers to manage.

“She threw me into the real world setting very quick,” Nolan said. “I had to figure things out quickly. She has good faith and trust in me."

Hayes said that trust was deserved.

“She will work until she knows how to do something,” she said. “She asks around for clarifications. She is reliable it has been fun to watch her develop these past four years.”

Nolan spent much of the last year working from home, but she’s back in the office as Benham slowly returns to normal. She missed visiting job sites while COVID restricted travel, but she made her first post-pandemic trip in May, traveling to Pittsburgh for interior design work on two military airfield projects.

She had to do one thing before leaving, though. She had to get new business cards with “NCIDQ” behind her name.

Haskell delivers more than $1 billion annually in Architecture, Engineering, Construction (AEC) and Consulting solutions to assure certainty of outcome for complex capital projects worldwide. Haskell is a global, fully integrated, single-source design-build and EPC firm with over 1,800 highly specialized, in-house design, construction and administrative professionals across industrial and commercial markets. With 20+ office locations around the globe, Haskell is a trusted partner for global and emerging clients.

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