I’m a Civil Engineer in the Southern Infrastructure team, based in the Christchurch Office. I moved from Wellington to Christchurch in 2014 to start my Bachelor of Engineering Technology at Ara before joining Beca in 2016. My focus while studying was in structures but I’ve been loving infrastructure ever since I joined Beca. I have had the opportunity to be involved in a range of projects! From wastewater treatment plant rebuild, cycle routes, rail crossing safety improvement, to 4km of new road in Fiji and a brand new cruise berth for Lyttelton Port of Christchurch.
What attracted you (or helped you decide) to work at Beca?
I heard through the network that Beca was/is one of the biggest consultants in New Zealand. It seemed like a no brainer that being part of one of the largest consultancies in the country. It would open up a huge range of opportunities and challenges. I had also heard and seen great things about the team culture and that was also a big part of why I wanted to join Beca.
What was your first impression of Beca when you started? What do you remember?
My first impression was pretty daunting, standing up and introducing myself in front of the team of 300 something in our Christchurch office. It became apparent very soon how friendly and welcoming everyone was. The office felt like a big family. There was also an impressive number of opportunities, activities and interest groups to be a part of.
What does ‘make everyday better’ for our clients and communities mean to you?
To me, it’s a reminder that we all have the power to make a difference whether it is through work or our daily life.
For our clients, it is going that extra mile to truly understand the bigger picture we are adding to through the projects and not just focusing on the technical solutions. For our communities, it is about considering that what we do as engineers can have a huge influence on the end users and communities over decades to come. So whether it is road safety improvement, a brand new structure or cycleway, I believe our purpose to ‘make everyday better’ should and can be the short answer to most questions and challenges we face everyday.
What has been your favourite accomplishment at Beca?
My favourite would be seeing our design get constructed on site at Lyttelton Port, Christchurch. It’s so rewarding seeing the hours of effort we spent on a design getting transformed into reality by a team of amazing contractors. I have also learnt so much, both in technical and professional aspects through working on site with both our client and the contractors!
What has been your most challenging project at Beca and what did you do to overcome it?
I think 2020 was an interesting year for everyone around the world. As a company we had an amazing and smooth transition from the office to working remotely full time.
However lockdown came with it's own challenges and when combined with the start of a technically challenging new roading project based in Fiji, I had a hard time catching up with the new skills and the rest of the team. After a while, I realised that with the lockdown, it wasn't just the technology and how we do things that had changed, my mindset and how we approach things also required an “update”. Being open with the team and keeping the communication up really helped me overcoming the challenges we faced in this project.
What makes you get up and come to work at Beca every morning?
Aside from the standard “I want to make a difference to the world through engineering”, I get out of bed in the morning to see the awesome team mates and front new challenges/ exciting opportunities at work with them.
What was the best piece of advice you have been given as an emerging professional?
“It is what you make of it” and “opportunities don’t happen, you create them” are probably the ones that have had the most impact on me over the past few years. It is tempting to settle for the easier path or go with the flow, but I’ve realised life is much more fun with some challenges or changes here and there.
What would you say to intermediate engineers who are considering working for Beca?
Give it a go! If you are looking for agility and flexibility, Beca might just be your answer. There’s always a huge range opportunities up for grabs and an awesome team to back you up along the way.
Where do you hope to go with your career in Beca?
In the short-term, I aim to continue developing my technical and soft skills. Perhaps branch out into design management or client facing roles. Looking into the future, with Beca, I want to change the face of the engineering industry. I believe that engineering as an industry can be so much more diverse and open to evolution and changes. We are missing out on a massive pool of talent that other industries like IT and arts are lapping up, right from the seats in school.
How do you find the team culture at Beca?
Fabulous! A bit tricky to describe but our “pod” here in the Infrastructure team is pretty awesome. Everyone knows we spend more time with our colleagues than we do with most other people so it’s been great getting to work with a bunch of great people here who make you feel right at home. From the banter, support at work (and out of work) to the excellent knowledge and skills, everyone adds a slightly different flavour to the team. Everyone knows everyone in our Christchurch team and there’s always someone who’s willing to help or provide an answer within Beca.
Outside of work, what do you love to do?
Food is a big passion of mine, trying new things through traveling (mutton bird from Invercargill anyone?) or whipping up something slightly different for dinner really sparks joy for me. It also gives me a break and provides a different outlet for creativity outside of work. I also have gotten into carpentry and taking care of house plants lately just to add some furniture and personal touches to the house. For the next while though, I would love to go on the odd road trip more often and see something new in New Zealand.
What’s an issue facing our business that important to you and why?
Sustainability and resilience are burning issues at most industry gatherings these days. There is no doubt that climate change is becoming a great threat to humanity. Being in an industry which plays a huge part in shaping our world, it has been great to see our business shift our focus to aid our clients on the path to providing more sustainable and resilient outcomes. With challenges also come opportunities for us to innovate and find smarter ways of doing things. Given the high stakes, I believe it’s so important to keep the momentum up and for everyone to be a part of the change. Every decision and new way of doing things can make a difference and that’s what exciting about what we do as engineers.
We all have the power to make a difference whether it is through work or our daily life.
Kha Pham Nguyen,