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Matt Harris

The Influencers Column: Matt Harris

One of the repeated issues that we see in NZ business is the ongoing difficulty in attracting skilled labour. In the construction sector, an area often in the news lately, we are faced with a continual shortage of trained and experienced engineers, architects, planners etc.

Matt Harris
Babbage Consultants Ltd South Island Business Manager


If left unchecked, this can impact productivity, quality and the delivery of effective design solutions, ultimately leading to undesirable project outcomes and contributing to the failure of some firms. Providing structured training to enable staff development is essential to ensuring the NZ workforce stays apace with ongoing technical and technological advancements, but with the true power of a business being staff, we can also empower teams by encouraging community support initiatives, for the mutual benefit of staff, the company and the community.

It was a pleasure then to see our young engineers showing our next generation of engineers the basics of structural frames at Engineering Week. The August showcase brought together engineering companies at the University of Canterbury campus to highlight the wide range of engineering careers available here in Canterbury. Of special note was the wide diversity of interested school students suggesting future careers in STEM subjects are now seen more favourably than in the past.

Our previous involvement with Habitat for Humanity is another example of allowing our staff to support essential aid programmes in the community, while developing skills and experience; the benefit here being the opportunity to attract staff who are actively seeking these opportunities and thereby feeding like-minded engaged individuals into our empowered teams.



Matt Harris

The Influencers Column: Matt Harris

Prior to the devastating earthquake events of 2010/2011, the public generally didn’t know a geotechnical engineer from a civil engineer; with much of an engineer’s work often being hidden.

Matt Harris
Matt Harris, Babbage Consultants Ltd South Island Business Manager

Indeed, if it works and continues to do so, then an engineer’s work is often buried in the ground, or hidden behind building finishes, quietly doing its job.
High demand saw increased competition with many firms coming into Canterbury, only to now be leaving as we begin the ongoing trend back to pre-earthquake construction levels. Which begs the question, where will the providers of this advice be when future questions are raised on post-earthquake designs and earthquake repairs?
With so much achieved during the rebuild and so much still to be done, it’s important for clients to understand that seeking enduring, quality advice should always be balanced against the cost of acquiring it. Cost effective solutions are rarely the cheapest option.
Engaging a well-established expert as your trusted advisor brings with it long term benefits that endure long after the bill for the alternative cheaper design would have been paid. A trusted advisor will seek to help the client find an enduring long-term solution with practical options, easily discussed because of your ongoing working relationship based on trust and good communication.
Canterbury and beyond remains an active seismic area and earthquakes are a way of life for New Zealanders. Get the best advice by making sure your consultant is an expert and is willing to put the time in to become your trusted advisor.