The completion of several major projects, the opening of the new Tākina conference and exhibition centre, and the Festival for the Future event have brought a buzz to Te Whanganui-a-Tara (Wellington). In this Ignite article, Beca Central Region Manager Chris Dunlop reflects on why the capital is feeling positive right now.

Festival for the Future set out to be Aotearoa’s biggest leadership and innovation summit, bringing  business, government and community sectors together to build ideas and skills for a more inclusive and sustainable future. 

Beca has been supporting the festival since 2020. Each year, we’ve been impressed and have stepped up our involvement – from sending a handful of attendees to becoming silver sponsors and inviting 30 of our intermediate-level employees from around the country this year. 

Some of the Beca attendees, with Festival founder Guy Ryan.

Why? It’s an event where our intermediates get really inspired to think about the future, the impact they can have on New Zealand and how they might develop their future careers. The festival’s theme, around building a sustainable, inclusive future for Aotearoa, syncs incredibly well with our purpose to 'make everyday better’ and ties in with the things that we’re focused on at Beca. It’s a great opportunity for attendees to share their experiences and present back to their teams, to spread the learnings as widely as possible.

As one Beca attendee, environmental engineer Karen Soares put it, “What struck me the most during the festival was the overwhelming passion and determination exhibited by the young people witnessing their unwavering commitment to making a difference in Aotearoa New Zealand filled me with hope and inspiration.”

Beca ran a fun and innovative Circular Economy workshop, which got great feedback (thanks to Eleanor Grant and Colleen Thorpe), where we got participants building things out of Lego and competing to see who could get the best circularity score for their project.

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Eleanor Grant (top / left) and Colleen Thorpe (below / right) present at the Festival. Photos: Supplied by Festival for the Future

They introduced particpants to the Beca Circular Design Framework and got them thinking about how to influence change in their own communities, by reducing their carbon footprint and using circular design principles such as designing out waste and pollution; keeping products and materials in use; and regenerating natural systems.

Workshop participants work on their lego creations. Photo: Supplied by Festival for the Future

Our New Zealand Managing Director, Darryl-Lee Wendelborn spoke alongside two other leaders about social outcomes in business. Despite their mixed backgrounds (a growing entrepreneurial business alongside a B-Corp leader and a large New Zealand corporate) they proved that businesses can be socially minded while still delivering a profit.

Darryl-Lee shared a little of her own career journey. One of her key mesages to attendees was that finding your passion is unlikely to be a lightbulb moment.

"Keep exploring - even if you find you don’t want to pursue something you’ll always learn at least that and probably a little more about yourself too." - Darryl-Lee Wendelborn

Darryl-Lee Wendelborn (right) and fellow panellists at the Festival. 
Photo: Supplied by Festival for the Future

As one of our attendees, Senior Project Manager Cristina Luces Monteverde put it: “This was a very inspiring panel for women in leadership. An excellent reflection on values, understanding the bigger picture, partnership with communities and our social contract.”

Another highlight for Festival attendees was the chance to see inside Tākina, as it was the first official event at Wellington’s new conference and exhibition centre.

The opening of Tākina caps off a series of exciting project completions in the region. It feels like something of a renewal for Wellington: the opening of the Peka Peka to Ōtaki Expressway, the reopening of the St James Theatre, the Omāroro Reservoir coming into service and Te Rā Nui, the regeneration project in Eastern Porirua, amongst many others, are giving our city a lift.

I’m proud to say the Beca team have had a hand in all of them. In particular, the building services engineering and the sustainability strategy for the 5 Green Star Tākina building.

Outside Tākina conference and exhibition centre.

It’s fantastic to see Tākina fully booked through to early 2025. Already, there are exhibitions and conferences organised there that wouldn’t have come to Wellington – there just wasn’t a venue of sufficient size or quality. Some of them are only coming to Wellington – they’re not touring the country. That brings visitors and revenue to our city and makes a real stepchange for Wellington. It has been hugely rewarding for the team to be part of creating Tākina, and then to see it in use for the Festival.

“With all the chaos life brings, there's something incredibly satisfying about coming full circle. At the end of last week I had the honour of being one of the 1400+ delegates attending the Festival for the Future 2023, the first official event held at Tākina - Wellington Convention & Exhibition Centre. For me there was additional significance - Tākina is one of the first projects I picked up as a graduate engineer at Beca. The learning I did as one of the (many many many!) pairs of hands that brought the project through design and construction has shaped the engineer I am today.” – Praise Li, Mechanical Engineer.

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Chris Dunlop

Regional Manager - Central

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