Last Word: Beca’s Keith Reynolds

The civil engineer’s move into the managerial ranks was, Reynolds thinks, prompted by the same qualities that attracted him to engineering. “When you take the engineering mindset and apply it to business, many of the same thought-processes are involved. So solving problems within business, helping to shape the business, putting in place strategies – that’s all very appealing.”

But Reynolds says the greatest fascination for him in management is in dealing with the qualitative quirks of human beings. Asked whether an affinity for the ‘soft’ skills required for managing staff is the product of nature or nurture, Reynolds plumps for bit of both.

“I think there are certain competencies we are born with, but at the same time we can learn behaviours and fresh skills. For me, I’ve been blessed to have worked with some wonderful mentors over my career, as well as to have an appetite for learning, I guess.

“A lot of my people skills, if you like, have been born of observing, listening to and seeking input from others. One of my key management philosophies is to surround myself with great people – much greater than I am – and by so doing I know we’re going to be successful.”

Another of Reynolds’ key philosophies also pivots around people. “My belief is that you have to ensure you have focus on what the business is seeking to achieve and compelling vision and goal for the business, and then you try to put in place measures to simplify the business so it’s not distracted. I’m referring to ‘the business’ in the third-person because the business is the people that form and shape it. So it’s really matter of understanding how the people drivers work.

“My first compass bearing has always been my own motivation and my own excitement around my roles in my career – understanding and reflecting upon my own values, and then checking in with the business and its values and ensuring the two are firmly aligned. If they are, you know you can go places. If there’s disconnect, then it’s not going to work very well.”

Reynolds is the first Group CEO in Beca’s almost 100-year history to be externally recruited (from the UK) . He sees the company as having an edge thanks to its particular style and culture which was set in place long before he arrived on the scene.

“We are very relationship focused as business and very values focused. I’ve been blown away when visiting our various offices to see those values really burning alive within people – values around tenacity, partnership, care and enjoyment, the four key values that really hit the heart of the culture of Beca.”

He attributes Beca’s rapid growth to “ensuring we’ve got good, simple processes and systems that are meaningful, and that everybody sees the bigger picture, so no matter what your role is in the business, there’s visible and transparent alignment between what you do and what the business is seeking to achieve.

“Growth is not the driving objective, but the consequence of what I mentioned earlier – values, and doing the best we can for our people and our clients, in way that also serves our community.”

• From an interview with Nick Grant in NZ Management magazine. To read the full interview visit

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