Plenty of work in Rotorua for WSP engineers

A day in the life of a business manager for a global engineering company involves quite a broad scope of activities.

Fred Shilton’s coming up on six years as business manager at WSP. He likens the role to managing a waka: “Keeping an eye on the horizon and encouraging everyone to keep paddling in the same direction.”
Fred also provides technical support on projects and a bit of project governance. Networking and client management are key components, as is looking ahead to see what the pipeline is looking like, including what work they are not going to consider because they’ve got enough on their plate at the moment. More on resourcing and growth opportunities later.
WSP provides support for transport, infrastructure, and property and building projects. This means there’s a wide range of tangibles that Rotorua residents and visitors benefit from: the Hemo Gorge roundabout rebuild; Tītokorangi Drive’s pathways, drainage plantings and forest lighting; Te Ngae Road refurb; and much more. One of Fred’s pet projects at the moment is the earthquake strengthening and interior refurb of the Rotorua Museum.
“We’re involved with council in project managing it and have been working on this for the last couple of years. That’s an exciting project to be part of. It’s an iconic building for Rotorua, and for New Zealand.”
While WSP has nearly 30 staff, they’re looking to hit the mid-30s over the next six months. Most of the new hires, including an engineering husband and wife team, will be coming from overseas. Like other businesses we’ve talked to, the theme of finding highly qualified staff rings true for WSP.
“The internationals will be the technically qualified people we’re really struggling to get in New Zealand.
“The biggest challenge for us has been getting enough skilled people to support the work available. I do wonder about the news, and the negativity around the motels, but I think even before that it has always seemed a challenge to try and get people to come to Rotorua. I’m not sure exactly why. Why wouldn’t you want to live here when you’ve got the lakes and the forest? You’ve got everything else right here. And you’re close to the coast if you want to go to the sea.”
Regardless of the struggle to find staff, Fred is firmly in the glass-half-full camp and his heart is in Rotorua.
“I like to solve problems, I like to fix things and make a difference, so being involved in projects here in our town, that’s what creates the biggest buzz. For most of us in the office, it’s about working in the community to create what matters for future generations. We live in Rotorua and are proud to have a hand in building the infrastructure that the community, our family, and friends get to use.
“I’m optimistic that we will continue to see growth in Rotorua, particularly with a greater acceptance of remote working enabling people to live outside of the main centres for the better lifestyle that Rotorua undeniably offers. This growth, along with visitors returning to enjoy everything Rotorua has to offer, will continue to boost business in the area.”

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