Zoe Thompson, Women’s Infrastructure Network Wellington Chair

What organisation are you with and what is your role?
Kia ora. I am a Team Leader/Principal Infrastructure Advisory Consultant within the Wellington Civil Infrastructure group at AECOM. I have a sustainability background but transitioned into project management/a team leadership role for numerous multi-disciplinary projects within the Wellington region, across New Zealand and overseas not long after relocating from AECOM Cardiff, in the United Kingdom, to AECOM New Zealand in 2016.

Day to day I help the team deliver a variety of projects across the country – typically civil engineering design, stakeholder engagement, asset management and sustainability, taking care of client and subcontractor agreements and relationships, verifying deliverables, being accountable for resourcing, financials and providing detailed reporting on programmes. I am also a PRINCE2 practitioner in project management, IAP2 accredited and a registered Better Business Case Practitioner.

What are some moments in your career that you feel most proud of?
I have been fortunate to work on some amazing projects with fantastic teams, such as the Wellington 100 Resilient Cities – in partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation and Wellington City Council (WCC), Project iReX (KiwiRail), Ngaio Gorge Slope Stabilisation Improvements (WCC), LGWM Thorndon Quay and Hutt Road, Tertiary Precinct Upgrade (Dunedin CC), two large infrastructure upgrade projects at Pago Pago International Airport, American Samoa and the Aotearoa National Climate Change Risk Assessment (MfE).

Between 2017-2019, I was seconded to KiwiRail to help lead the internal KiwiRail team and associated sub-consultants to determine the future of the Interislander fleet, infrastructure and terminal configurations for a resilient North and South Island connection (project iReX). I engaged in drafting initial designs with stakeholders on the ground through to presenting findings to the executive team, successfully developing the Better Business Case for submission to Treasury. My favourite part of this project was not only learning about the operations of KiwiRail and Interislander internally and externally, but building trust and knowledge within the team and interfaces to understand the challenges and opportunities each option faced – this sometimes included taking three return ferry sailings in a week, at unusual hours and in all weather, and eating multiple chocolate biscuits with the team whilst hashing out design details in the railyard site offices late into the night to ensure we captured the input from every team on shift.

Can you offer any reflections on the role your age/experience/diversity has played in your career so far?
Not being an engineer in a predominantly engineering firm means I am always learning. I used to see, and downgrade myself, as the person who constantly asks the annoying “dumb” questions but over time have learnt to appreciate my challenger role is valued as it ensures we continue to think outside the box. I love collaborating with a diverse range of project teams, clients and stakeholders in order to achieve the best outcome for the project and ultimately improve people’s quality of life.

He tangata, he tangata, he tangata – people – as individuals (takitahi), whānau (family), colleagues (hoamahi) or communities (hapori) — they are central to everything we do. For me personally, improving my mātauranga Māori, (Māori knowledge) and te reo is really important, and a journey I have been embracing for the last few years. I also sit on the AECOM E,D&I and CSR committees and have a national role in helping deliver our Sustainable Legacies (ESG) strategy.

It’s cliché but surround yourself with smarter people than yourself and take every opportunity, you never know where it will take you.

 

Laura Goodman, The Infrastructure Collective Canterbury Deputy Chair

What organisation are you with and what is your role?
I’m a Transport Engineer based in Ōtautahi, Christchurch at GHD – a multi-disciplinary professional services firm that provides engineering, environmental, design and construction solutions.  My role is focused on developing business cases for our clients – helping them to tell their ‘why story’ and provide structured investment decision-making that delivers positive outcomes and community value.

What are some moments in your career that you feel most proud of?
The moments I am most proud of stem from when I’ve said yes to an opportunity that pushed me from my comfort zone in to a ‘growth zone’ – from presenting at my first hui, to being the GHD Young Professionals Regional Lead for Te Wai Pounamu, to being bid manager on a key pursuit for the team.

One significant “yes” moment was when I became assistant project manager on a project with 80 team members across four countries and multiple disciplines (architecture, structural, geotechnical, fire, mechanical, environmental, heritage and planning) to deliver the retrofit of 800 social houses. It was challenging at times, yet very rewarding – as we were all driven by a shared goal to provide warm, dry and safe housing for some of the most vulnerable people in our community.

Committing to a yes attitude has been critical to my development as a young professional. I’ve crossed paths with many amazing people I never would have met otherwise and I’ve learnt important lessons and skills that will ultimately mean I’ll be a better engineer.

Can you offer any reflections on the role your age/experience/diversity has played in your career so far?
A whakataukī that really resonates with me is E koekoe te tūī, e ketekete te kākā, e kūkū te kereru – the tui chatters, the kākā cackles, the kererū coos which conveys that it takes a variety of birds and their different sounds to create the beautiful birdsong we hear. One of the things I love about my job and the business cases I’m involved with is that I get to work with a great range of people and bring together their views, technical analysis, and lived experiences into a cohesive investment story. I’ve had the privilege of working alongside many talented and experienced people who have shared their time to help me grow professionally and personally. I really do feel like I’m standing on the shoulders of giants.

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