As part of a new series of stories profiling people of influence from around Beca, we asked Phil Card, who leads the Beca team based in Victoria and is also the General Manager Industrial for Australia, to tell us about his career journey and life outside of work.
I joined Beca a long time ago – as an undergrad. I was just trying to get enough work experience to get my degree, and I ended up going out on some sites and getting some great opportunities, and before I knew it I’d been with Beca more than 20 years. I had some great mentors who really helped me and made sure they were available.
Looking back now, I wish I’d listened to more of their advice. I was pretty gung-ho and wasn’t ready to listen to hear all of it.
What did you want out of life at that age?
I wanted to run a restaurant. I was working part-time in hospitality and loving it. I enjoyed food, but more importantly the team environment. In that environment, when things go well, they go really well. But there are often challenges that you have to work through together and you’d get to the end of the night, celebrate, and then do it all again. So I honestly thought I’d go and run a restaurant after I finished my engineering degree, but I’m glad I’ve ended up as a consultant. The hours are a lot kinder, especially when you have a family.
Do you like cooking?
I can do a good stir-fry. I still like eating! I still like going to restaurants. Maybe I’m still doing market research.
What are the similarities between running a restaurant and running a project at Beca?
The team environment – everyone’s got their roles, and we’ve all got to get organised and prepare. When things don’t go as planned, everyone chips in and helps. That’s what I really like about the Beca culture. At the restaurant, you knew you had to get through everything, together. You’d be under pressure, but you’d work together to get through the evening’s service. It’s the same at Beca. That culture permeates through everything, not just client projects. Whether you’re starting a new enterprise, growing a new market or a new part of the business. I like how collaborative we are, and how much we need each other to make things happen.
The tips aren’t as good in engineering. Ha!
What are you into outside of work?
I’ve just been skiing with the family. I used to chase winters around the world (in Japan, Canada, America and Europe) to ski and snowboard. And now I’m loving doing it with the kids, they’re only 5 and 7, but it’s great to have two little skiing buddies. My son is getting his ski independence and can go down runs by himself. My daughter is still just mini but we have a great time skiing and chatting together. Mostly chatting.
What did you want to do when you were a little kid?
I wanted to be a marine biologist. I loved the ocean. I spent my Christmas holidays on the York Peninsula in South Australia. We used to stay in a tin shack on the beach– when there was a King tide the ocean would come right up to the door. You didn’t shower, you just swam every day. That was my childhood.
I think it was my parents who convinced me that engineering might be the better option. I thought that as a marine biologist you’d just spend your whole life snorkelling!
Are you still into watersports?
We’ve just moved house, so that we’re by the ocean. It was the best decision. I like kiteboarding, but a good kiteboarding day means the wind is pretty gnarly, so it’s not a good family day at the beach. I did try paragliding, which didn’t end well – I’m alive, but I’m still limping! Ha! So now I’m getting into wingfoiling, which is a bit closer to the ground and it’s easier for the family to come too.
How did you get into kiteboarding?
I was in Zanzibar – we’d just done Kilimanjaro and the idea was to hang out by the beautiful beaches in Zanzibar to recover, but there was this howling wind the whole time so you couldn’t sit on the beach. So I thought… how can I turn this weather into something good? I’ll spend the next five days learning to kiteboard!
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
The repeat business we're getting in Australia, as a result of what our people are doing. We’re getting recognised and differentiated for the people we are and the service we provide, which is so good to see. Australia is a real growth market for Beca. It’s really exiting to see the way people are collaborating across our entire business and with our partners to support our Australian clients with their projects. It’s especially rewarding at the moment to see how many of those projects relate directly to decarbonisation.