Challenge business as usual, we can do things better and differently. Push the boundaries constructively and collaboratively and don’t be afraid to make people think, you can be a part of the solution.
Technical Director - Civil Engineer
A UK engineer who has found home in the coastal city of Tauranga, New Zealand. Tania shares how her role at Beca is about helping to shape the future of infrastructure in her community, fostering diversity of thinking and flexibility, and having fun along the way.
What is your current role with Beca?
I am a Technical Director and a Team Leader for our Urban Development team in the Tauranga Transport & Infrastructure section. Since I joined beca in 2008, my role has changed and grown as I have taken on different opportunities.
How does it feel to be a part of our Transport & Infrastructure team?
Great! I love working with the people in our team. Before I joined Beca, I was changing jobs every couple of years, searching for something. Over time you realise the work is similar wherever you go, but the people are what makes the biggest difference. You can follow the specific projects, or keep jumping to the next big thing, but for me it’s the people you work with every day.
What is the best thing about the Tauranga office and why?
The people! Since arriving in New Zealand I have been based in Tauranga. I had never been to NZ before and it was the first place both my husband and I found a job in the same city. Our intention was to try it out for a few years, but we’re so lucky that we found our home instead. I was made to feel welcome; I’ve made great friends and got to do some awesome things! The office has a really active social side, and it has a great feel to it; it’s relaxed and has a good mix of ‘get the job done’ and enjoying the lifestyle it has to offer.
Could you describe what the Tauranga Infrastructure Team might do on a typical day?
We do a lot. We are a team of over 60 people and cover everything from the bigger projects like the Takitimu North Link, Baylink and looking after maintenance contracts for Auckland Transport, to smaller safety improvement projects around the city. We also work closely with our other local engineering disciplines like our Industrial team on pulp and paper mills or support our Building Services and Urban Design teams. The work we do on any given day really varies from small to large infrastructure projects or could be on other diverse opportunities like internally supporting our sustainability, delivery, or digital initiatives. You would be lucky if you worked on the same type of project twice.
What comes to mind when you think about diversity and inclusion within your team?
Diversity of thought and how much my team challenge me. We are a broad and interesting group of people, with different backgrounds and experiences. The highlight of my week are Friday mornings just before nine, when we have our team catch ups… usually with home baking! You get to find out what people have been working on, what they plan to do in and out of work, some of the discussions have really broadened my knowledge. I regularly get challenged about my own thoughts and how we do things, what could and should we change. The level of engagement is fantastic, and it’s been great to see and encourage such diversity of thinking in our team.
How do you leverage flexibility at Beca?
Flexibility is always an interesting discussion. We get lots of questions about our flexible working policy because it is vague... and I see this as a good thing! It allows us to be flexible to meet different people’s changing needs. In my team we talk about what people need and work out how to leverage flexibility in lots of different ways. Some people start/finish early to train their kids sports team, others change working hours/locations as they train for specific events like the Coast to Coast, to studying or support personal situations. I am an early starter so that I can pick up my kids from school, but others start later so they can go for a surf before work. As long as we know our people are safe and happy, our work gets done and delivered on time, then we work out what suits all our needs.
Where has your current role taken you outside of your usual day to day/traditional role?
When I first joined Beca, I noticed a gap when it came to safety in design. I was given the green light to develop and implement a process for safety in design at Beca. It has had a huge impact on our projects, and it was great to be able to have that influence. Now I am working on sustainability and social impacts, which takes me out of my day-to-day role and lets me go further to do what I love and am passionate about, and make everyday better for our communities.
What advice would you give to developing professionals?
Ask questions, ask questions, ask questions. It’s ok to make mistakes as long as you learn from them and it’s not the same mistake. Learn and take it all on board, challenge business as usual, we can do things better and differently. Push the boundaries constructively and collaboratively and don’t be afraid to make people think, you can be a part of the solution.
How is the work you are doing making everyday better for our communities and clients?
I’ve had the privilege of working on two big projects within the last year that really look to change local community outcomes - the Transport System Plan (TSP) and the Tauranga Major Cycleways project. The TSP looked at how people will move around our city over the next 30 years, whether they are walking, cycling, taking the bus, commuting by car or making deliveries (freight). We worked with the project partners to develop the next three-year programme of transport projects. The outcome of this work is that our region and city has received record level of funding allocated to deliver this programme of work. The other project, the Major Cycleway looks at creating a cycle infrastructure around the city, which means that my two young boys will soon be able to bike to school safely. This is how I see that I can make a difference, creating a better city that people can safely move around.
What’s an issue facing the industry that is important to you?
As a consultant we can do so much, but we also have to influence our clients and supply chains to see what is valued and how this is assessed. Often we focus on the technical aspects of the project because they are easy to quantify. I see the next few years being a challenging and a rapidly changing environment, as we work out what’s really important and how we incorporate sustainability, circular economy and social procurement to a level that’s meaningful and genuine.
Outside of work, what do you love to do?
Mountain biking and Pilates are my main passions. These are the things I really enjoy doing for me, luckily my husband and kids enjoy mountain biking too. The Redwoods in Rotorua isn’t far away and I try to bike to work most days too. I do Pilates during lunchtime which helps my mental game in the afternoons. I also love getting out and exploring New Zealand, and it’s even better if I can include my passions like when I recently did the Timber Trail in the Central North Island which was amazing!