As principal of Aerial Design, Julie Kelley brings over 30 years of business experience to the table. Her early years as the proprietor of both a successful Florida accounting firm and a Professional Employer Organization led her into real estate investing, and she discovered a love for design and construction. She designed and built her own home in Florida, and that ultimately became the catalyst for co-founding her own company in NYC in 1997. Her first company completed multiple projects for the Department of Public Works, as well as high-end commercial and residential.
Aerial Design is one of New York City’s premier design and construction firms, with the distinction of being women owned and operated. Aerial’s main focus is high end residential, commercial and hospitality projects. Julie manages Aerial’s day to day operations, working closely with project managers and handling contracts. Her hands-on approach ensures that Aerial’s clientele is assured of a carefully curated experience. She maintains an active Florida contractor’s license and stays on the cutting edge of developments in her field.
Julie’s most recent passion is as founder and manager of a non-profit international animal welfare organization Let’s be S.M.A.R.T. supporting a rescue shelter in Greece, and organizing educational events for children, coupling animal welfare education with sporting/creative activities. These works have also inspired the development of an animal welfare APP that will connect both locally and globally as well as a new Aerial project featuring pet friendly designs.
Julie is an avid tennis player and fitness enthusiast, and holds a BS in Alternative Medicine. She loves karaoke and creative pursuits. When asked what her Superhero personality might be, she answered with The Defender. Her current favorite work of non-fiction is The Power Principle: Influence With Honor.
For Rupila Sethi, founding Principal of Aerial Design and Build, everything is possible and within reach. She always believed that everything in life is achievable and has proved it – to make it from a small town in India to New York City – she’s aspired, focused, strived and accomplished! Naturally artistic, she always dreamt of getting into design and bagged admission in one of the prestigious Architecture College in India, VRCE (now VNIT) at Nagpur after which she interned with an award winning Architecture firm Vasant and Revathi Kamat, one of a kind in India. Then she went ahead and got herself a Masters in Lighting and Design from Parsons School of Design, New York.
Before starting Aerial, Rupila had gathered years of experience working with Cooley Monato Studio, a SOHO based Design Studio and was associated with prestigious projects such as Tiffany, HBO, Lesportsac and high-end residences in Kuwait and Santa Barbara, California. She further gained extensive Design and Construction experience working on residential projects in prominent locations such as Trump Towers, Museum Towers, Central Park South and West buildings. Rupila was also invited to be on the team of the first ever “women only” group to ring the NY Stock Exchange Opening Bell.
Rupila is an innovative problem solver, a collaborative manager and an effective communicator and decision maker. Her ’client-centric’ approach to business, attention to detail and excellent team management enables her to complete every project within budget and schedule. Her ability to create a good client relationship is due to her structured approach and forward outlook in addition to her sincere, easy-going and empathetic personality.
In her spare time, Rupila likes to be with family and friends – be it travelling to different parts of the world, fun-activities with her children, hosting cozy get-togethers, or just enjoying good food and wine with her loved ones.
As Design/Build Director, Jessica Maktal’s role is to manage residential and commercial projects from conception to completion. She has handled more than 40 interior renovation projects during her tenure at Aerial, including high end residential projects up to $2 million and the build-out of the retail flagship for Bulletin in Union Square and of the Waterworks Flatiron showroom.
An architecture and dance major from Barnard College, and graduate of the Master of Architecture program from Spritzer School of Architecture (CCNY), Jessica has more than 15 years of work experience in New York in the fields of design and construction, including significant work experience as an advertising art director at Grey NY and as an architectural designer. She has also worked as a dishwasher at a diner, as a waitress, as an intern in VH1 and at a company that built the infrastructure for what we know now as google maps. She is not afraid to get her hands dirty and clients often remark on her ability to remain calm, balanced and focused, even in stressful situations.
Jessica wishes she could go to school with her two children for fun and enjoys cleaning, organizing closets and rearranging furniture. She counts performing as a dancer at the Joyce Theater as one of her life achievements.
As the Senior Project Manager, Lisa Lee is responsible for managing several work-sites simultaneously – maintaining and organizing operations, negotiating subcontracts, and documenting all aspects of a given project throughout the project pipeline. She also ensures smooth flow of communication between the project team and senior management so that the job remains on schedule and within budget.
Lisa holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Architecture from U.C. Berkeley (CA). During her early career in San Francisco she has worked at a variety of architectural firms (institutional and commercial), thereby gaining a lot of ground-up and on-site work experience. For the last 10 years, she has been back in NYC having worked on many major projects. She is good at focusing on intricate coordination details of the job while keeping an eye on the bigger picture. Lisa is LEED accredited and also has certification for OSHA 30 and NYCDOB 40 hours Site Safety Manager Course.
Lisa manages her projects through teamwork, comprehension and a proactive approach while always supporting project goals. She is extremely driven and does not rest till she has connected all the dots and tied all the loose ends. She is fluent in English and Chinese; Mandarin, Taiwanese and understands Cantonese. She loves to organize, read, bake, hike, and karaoke during her spare time.
Kashminder Singh is responsible for business development strategies – to develop marketing initiatives, acquire new business opportunities, retain and develop existing business and create brand awareness. He also has 15 years of experience as Lead Project Manager in the Telecommunication & Wireless Industry.
Kash is an Electrical and Electronic Engineering graduate followed by a Masters in Management & Technology with a major in Leadership from NYU. With excellent interpersonal skills and awareness of business environment, Kash has been able to add new projects to the Aerial Portfolio. In the last four years with Aerial Build, Kash has expanded and diversified clientele for the company. He also manages social media communication and public relations.
Outside of work, Kash likes playing soccer, hiking, camping and spending time with his kids. He is happiest when his favorite soccer team, Manchester United, wins the Champions League.
Marly Cruikshank performs a gamut of roles in Aerial Design – administrative, financial, and personnel. With over 20 years of working experience, Marly is an integral part of Team Aerial where she is responsible for processing of various financial and accounting reports, overseeing legal documents, and automation to improve efficiency, ensuring smooth intra-office communication and building & maintaining relationships with clients, vendors and other business associates. She is truly multifaceted and versatile.
Marly has a law and accounting degree from Brazil, a Management Certificate for Cornell University and Accounting Certificate from NYU. A highly self-motivated and strong-willed individual, Marly is a self-starter who takes ownership of projects from concept to completion.
She loves to study foreign language, is fluent in Portuguese and proficient in speaking and reading Spanish. She enjoys watching foreign films and also likes to crochet.
Bhumi Shah has 16 years of onsite experience working in various mid-size commercial and residential projects in and around NYC, renovation and expansion of a convention center, design development of a courthouse, corporate interiors and furniture design and planning. With such an array of projects in her bag along with her ability to multitask, Bhumi has competently seen through many complex projects for Aerial Design & Build.
Bhumi has a Masters in Architecture from Texas A&M University where she was awarded the Pahlmann Scholarship for excellence in the field of Interior Architecture. She has also worked with various architectural firms to provide them with the zoning and building code compliance services. A LEED Accredited professional, Bhumi has experience in coordinating sustainability issues necessary to achieve the USGBC green building rating. She has also worked on schematic design drawings for a heliport project in New Jersey.
A multitasker and knowledgeable in all aspects of project management, Bhumi is able to anticipate issues and solve them effectively. Outside of design, Bhumi enjoys photography, art and travelling and one of her photographs was even published in National Geographic. A positive thinker, her mantra in life is to ‘Keep Going’.
Tri Nguyen is an integral part of the Team Aerial where he brings in over 8 years of experience in the construction industry focussing on the architecture side. A Bachelor of Science in Architecture, he is responsible for surveying schematics, design development, construction documents, MEP system layout and interior design. Tri has excellent organizational skills and is able to maintain a clear and constant flow of communication with the entire team. He is very hands on with projects from start to finish and has been a part of many major projects like Miller Hall Family Residence, TAVO Restaurant, Rosemary Pizza, etc. He is very good at architectural drawing and is also adept in PROCORE, a project management software.
Enterprising and charismatic, Tri also started a business with his family which he is really proud of. Travel, food, friends and family make him happy and he loves to cook and play handball in his spare time. Architect Frank Lloyd Wright is his hero and Tri truly believes “the only person you try to be better than is the person you were yesterday”.
Marco Valente’s contribution to Team Aerial is his vast experience and specialized knowledge in Hospitality Construction having worked in the hospitality industry for more than 10 years. He co-owned and operated an Italian restaurant at the age of 19 after which he went on to study civil engineering followed by MBA with a focus in International Management. Highly motivated and result oriented, Marco has a remarkable ability to work independently or as a part of a team to get a successful project outcome. As an Operations Manager for a Yoghurt & Juice Bar, he monitored every construction phase for compliance with approved plans and supervised on-site personnel and contractors. Similarly, he has worked on numerous residential and commercial projects.
Marco has multiple certifications such as TIPs Food & Beverage handling, NYC Fire Guard, OSHA Construction Safety & Health and Food Protection & Mental Hygiene. As a restaurant owner, he was awarded employer of the year for hiring physically challenged individuals.
Marco maintains an active lifestyle participating in cycling races and triathlons but envisions relaxing on a beach when he retires. He is a talented wood-worker, loves to throw parties and is fluent in English, Spanish and Italian. A family man, Marco loves to spend time with his wife and son.
Samara Mahendru has over 15 years of experience in the design and construction industry and has been part of many diverse and exciting projects in New York. She is excellent at visual presentations and has the ability to express thoughts into simple graphs, diagrams and layouts. Samara is also Founder and Art Director of a textile brand which she successfully manages singlehandedly for the past many years.
Samara is an Architecture Graduate and ‘Master of Science’ in Communication Design. As an LEED accredited professional she believes in sustainable practices and her current goals are recycling/reusing and reducing consumerism. Her vast experience and knowledge makes her extremely competent and dependable and an excellent communicator which eventually ables her to provide clear direction to her team.
Outside of work Samara loves to read, watch documentaries, and be aware of current affairs and global phenomena.
Jevaun Chambers brings in just the right expertise into Team Aerial with his proficiency in carpentry and plumbing alongside the day-to-day onsite working of a Project Manager. He started his career working construction for his uncle’s plumbing company and soon got himself a job with NYC Precision where he gained 6 years of experience working on various residential and commercial construction sites. Hardworking, driven and inclined towards designing, Jevaun shifted from construction work and landed a job as a Junior Designer with Marvel Architects where he helped secure major projects due to his creative model designs.
Discovering his love for design and equipped with remarkable construction experience, getting into Architecture was a forgone conclusion. Currently he is pursuing his Undergrad Degree in Architecture at City College, New York.
Jevaun loves nature and spends a lot of his spare time hiking. He has also worked as an outdoor educator and volunteered for Christodora, an NGO, to briefly run their conservation program – The New Youth Conservationist at the NYBG. He dreams of traveling the world to experience different cultures and help those in need.
Pius Danquah’s core competence is construction administration with over 12 years of experience in new construction as well as renovation projects which make him a valuable member of Team Aerial. He holds a Master’s Degree in Architecture and a Master’s Degree in Construction Administration from Columbia University. Meticulous and solution oriented Pius is accomplished in Construction Management, Contract Administration, Project Documentation, Risk Management, Logistic Planning and Quality Assurance. His 8 years of experience as Project Architect for an architecture firm made him proficient in design development and construction of high end residential, commercial and office buildings.
Pius is organized and customer oriented with excellent technical and communication skills. He feels ‘there is always a solution’ and strives to work towards it. When not working, Pius likes to either read or jog but he is happiest spending time with his family and friends. He also enjoys soccer and tennis.
Kelly Yu brings to the Aerial Team a keen sense of style, exceptional color work, and the passion and excitement for establishing creative solutions for each project. Over the last 12 years she has been involved in various commercial, corporate, and residential projects from conceptual to construction phase in Asia and North America.
Kelly always loved art, design, and drawing and earned her Bachelor’s in interior design from Shanghai Institute of Technology, MBA from KEDGE Business School, and Construction Administration from Columbia University. She is also NCIDQ Certified Interior Designer, LEED GA accredited, and holds OSHA-30 training certificate.
Kelly’s designs also encompasses financial and environmental points of view besides bringing to life the client’s vision by collaborating successfully with architects, contractors, craftspeople and vendors. Friendly, organized and excellent at time management, she has the ability to work both independently and in a team environment. Outside of work, Kelly loves to visit museums, travel, hike, play ping pong, and explore new things.
Shayenna Telles is OSHA certified professional. She has an outstanding background in computing and helped implement the usage of the PROCORE software to increase efficiency and productivity for her team.
Devoted to furthering her education, Shayenna has taken the following classes at NYU relevant to her field – Preconstruction Project Planning, Construction Field Management and Obtaining New York City Building Permits, Approvals and Certificates of Occupancy and Reading, and Interpreting Construction Documents.
Attentive, efficient, and patient, Shayenna offers valuable support and assistance to the Team. She has a positive attitude and mindful approach which creates a comfortable work environment for her team as well as her clients. When not working, she enjoys music/ podcasts, art, literature, and karaoke. She is also a regular volunteer at New York Cares.
Shakina Sumi is vital to Team Aerial as she coordinates all material purchases and delivery schedules to maintain smooth running of all operations. Detail oriented and dedicated, for her evaluating suppliers, reviewing material/product quality, delivery schedule, building relationship with suppliers, and coordination with the project management team is all in a day’s work.
Currently Sumi is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and holds an Associate Degree in Liberal Arts. She has always been very participative in college activities, involving herself in student government, event planning, heading a club, performing in cultural events, and other volunteer activities. With such enthusiasm and initiative, coupled with great coordination and communication skills she performs her role effortlessly. She also ensures that all purchase requirements are met according to specifications provided by the customer and the on-site team.
Sumi’s polite demeanor, patience, work ethics and ability to follow directions makes her very good at her job. In her spare time, she sketches, watches movies and volunteers at a nursing home. She is fluent in English, Bangla, Hindi, and Urdu.
Victoria Telles is currently studying Business and Marketing. She is proud to intern and assist Aerial in their endeavors to grow and be a successful company.
Photo credit: George Chiristanidis
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