Tony Pettigrew has come a long way from his early days at Beca to a fully-fledged Senior Structural Engineer. From inspecting earthquake struck buildings to working on the Al Rayyan Stadium for the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar, Tony’s 11-year career at Beca has seen him work on diverse projects across a range of disciplines.
A challenge-seeker by nature, Tony jumped at the opportunity to be a part of Beca’s New Ventures Accelerator
programme. Read on to find out more, including his reflections on being part of the first cohort to participate in the accelerator programme.
1. How has your career progressed since you first started at Beca?
I started as a brand spanking new structural engineering graduate in 2007. I spent the first four years with the Wellington Structural Team and cut my teeth working on a variety of roles from new build designs through to contract admin. When it was time for the obligatory overseas experience, I joined Ramboll in London and spent three years working on several large-scale projects.
In 2015, I made the journey back to New Zealand and was lucky to once again find my way into the Beca Structural Team in Wellington. Since I've been back, I’ve conducted lots of seismic assessments and building strengthening work. More recently I’ve been solely focused on Beacon – a technology enabled seismic notification service.
2. You’ve had the opportunity to be a part of Beca's New Ventures Accelerator programme. Can you share some of your highlights?
One of my highlights was Ideation Day. You don't often get the freedom to ‘go crazy’, in a structured way, when dreaming up ideas for a solution and have the liberty to not worry too much about the practicalities of delivery. Another highlight was the Demo Day. Pitching ideas to some of our senior people can sound daunting, but I really enjoyed it!
3. What has been your role in further developing Beca’s Beacon system which won the 2018 Most Innovative Hi-Tech Service award at the NZ High-Tech Awards.
With Beacon, I’ve been fortunate to ride on the coat tails of those who came up with the concept and developed this award-winning solution. Through the accelerator programme, and now beyond, I’ve been leading the next stage of development which aims to make Beacon more scalable and provide more reliable information to customers about how an earthquake impacts their assets.
4. What are some of the biggest learnings you’ll carry forward from this experience?
The importance of really understanding your clients needs, knowing what makes them tick, what their priorities are, and what major challenges they face.
A second thing is the idea of selling before you build; to ensure there is a market for your idea before you spend time and money building it. It’s a challenging concept and quite contrary to what we are typically used to.
5. One of our strategic goals is around empowering exceptional people. How do you think the New Ventures Accelerator programme is contributing towards this goal?
The programme gives people an avenue to pursue some cool, innovative ideas in a structured way and a safe environment to learn and ‘fail fast’.
6. What are you most proud of at the end of the accelerator programme?
There was something special about being part of a Beca’s first! Everything about it was new and it served as a big learning experience for those involved. I’m proud of the way we committed ourselves to the programme. There was a committed willingness to step outside of our comfort zone.
7. What advice would you give to those with innovative ideas willing to make a difference?
Nothing comes easy, but the outcomes of a transformational idea are worth the hard slog so stick with it. If opportunity knocks don’t hesitate to jump in and be a part of one of the future New Ventures Accelerator programmes - this is truly a unique opportunity at Beca.
8. Outside of work, how do you like to relax and recharge?
I have two young kids and a wonderful wife who I love spending time with and who are lots of fun. I enjoy getting outdoors as much as I can, particularly skiing, hunting, fishing adventures and free diving.
9. What do the next 12 months hold for you?
On the work front, I will be leading the next stage of development for Beacon. By the end of 2019 we hope to have a developed pilot programme with a number of instrumented buildings. On a personal level, I’m looking forward to a ski trip to Japan and welcoming baby number three!