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Passion for civil construction inspires young leaders

An Otago site supervisor, a Christchurch foreman and a Wellington Environmental Advisor received awards for industry leadership on 2 August at the Z People Awards, held at Rotorua’s Blue Baths during the Civil Contractors New Zealand ‘Navigating the Future’ Conference.

Keith Matheson of Otago’s SouthRoads won the coveted Emerging Leader Award, which recognises outstanding leadership under the age of 30 for his decisive leadership in the company as a Contract Manager and Site Supervisor, moving on from operating machinery to operating projects at scale.

“We [civil contractors] love what we do. I think that’s the difference. It makes it pretty easy for me to come to work day in day out and be who I am,” said Mr Matheson.

Head Judge Brian Warren said Mr Matheson had proven his leadership in his work, building trust with his clients and managing complex projects in challenging locations such as nature reserves.

“Keith has the skills and experience to lead by example from the front, but the maturity to provide a working environment for people to be themselves.”

Isaac Construction Foreman Dan Elliott won the Personal Improvement Award, which recognises outstanding commitment to professional development both personally and for others, for his dedication to building his team’s skills through company study groups and on the job development, and for building his personal skills to the level where he can take on Site Supervisor responsibilities.

“Dan has proven he is determined to better himself. He immediately set about gaining more skills and qualifications. He’s now on the road to management in one of New Zealand’s top civil construction companies," Mr Warren said.

Jemma Dutton of CPB Contractors was highly commended in the Personal Improvement Award category for her approach to environmental management on the Transmission Gully site. Her efforts to further her skills included being the first woman in New Zealand to achieve the international Certified Professional in Erosion and Sediment Control qualification and winning the National Association of Women in Construction’s 2018 Rising Star Award.

Four people were shortlisted for the Emerging Leader Award, which celebrates outstanding leadership in people aged 30 years and under. The runners-up were Project Manager Elena Hoffman from Higgins Canterbury, Laboratory Manager Victoria Lord, of Isaac Construction, and Downer Mechanical Engineer Aimee Pene of Auckland.

CCNZ Chief Executive Peter Silcock said all winners and finalists in the Z People Awards deserved recognition for their outstanding work at a time when good leaders and people who were committed to personal professional development were in more demand in the civil construction industry than ever before.

“As a country playing catchup with a civil infrastructure deficit, we need more great New Zealanders to step up to the rewarding careers on offer from civil construction.

“This is an exciting time. The projects we are working on are changing, the technology we use is changing, and we are seeing a new generation of workers who will need to develop their skills to build New Zealand’s vital roading, water and public transport infrastructure.”

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