INTOUCH : As i see it

Matt Ensor, section manager of the Beca Transportation Group. Part of Beca Infrastructure, Beca Transportation Group, won the Private Sector Diversity Award at this year’s EEO awards. Beca Transportation employs 44 people in its Auckland office.

How would you describe the New Zealand identity?
I think we still retain strong sense of who we are as New Zealanders. At the same time, we are steadily increasing our ability to operate internationally. In part this is because New Zealanders are now made up of people with backgrounds from all parts of the world, and this multiculturalism gives us the knowledge and understanding we need to contribute effectively within global culture and workplace. Global issues are also increasingly influencing the way we think as New Zealanders, particularly at work, including how global environmental issues impact on what we do and how we act and the increasing importance of developing nations as customers for our goods and services.

What will be our next major challenge?
For export-focused organisations, it’ll be the realisation that we need to move from relying heavily on Kiwi ingenuity to focusing on building our international competitive advantage by fostering innovation and creativity within dynamic and diverse teams – particularly ones that are well connected to India and China. It’s about maintaining an edge in niche or high-value services and products so we’re not overtaken by countries with far more aggressive and increasingly innovative approach. For example, the competition for engineering skills around the world is such that salaries offered to top civil engineering graduates in India will soon overtake what we can offer in New Zealand. The advantage New Zealand companies do have, however, is the ability to offer variety of challenges, training and responsibility that young professionals value and seek.

How do we enable and manage difference?
This is the key! Our success at Beca Transportation in managing cultural diversity has been to change the way the team thinks so that there’s two-way learning and real interest in taking on ideas and practices from around the world. To do this, managers need to understand the differing motivations and expectations of individuals and be really innovative in how employees are supported and developed.

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