NZ’s Most Reputable Organisation: Beca Group

Perceptions of what makes Beca world-class consultancy have, its chairman Richard Aitken thinks, “been built up over time”. No question the company has been around while. Its roots reach back to the 1920s.
“We are long established business in New Zealand, have big footprint in many markets and hope we are known for getting on with the job,” says the quietly spoken leader of the Beca board.
He is, he says, “little surprised” by the recognition given by his peers. I don’t quite believe him. He knows what an outstanding business he leads and how highly it is regarded. It would not, of course, be seemly to boast or assume others knew how proud he and his team are of the things they do and how they do them. That is for others to say, through acknowledgements such as this.
“We are very pleased [with being named NZ’s Most Reputable Organisation] of course. But as professional organisation we aspire to have high reputation,” he says. “We do the best we can and we take responsibility for our work” – sentiment with which many MRO survey respondents agree. “They strive to protect very proud legacy,” said one.
“A good reputation must be earned and continuously invested in through high performance. Good work talks,” says Aitken. “When we have done good job and, most importantly, when it results in successful outcomes for our clients, we are happy to tell the story. We focus strongly on the internal communication of success stories and lessons learned.”
Reputation is, according to Aitken, at the core of his professional services business. “If we lose reputation, clients and potential clients lose respect and trust and then find it difficult to rely on our advice,” he says simply. “We really do live or die by our reputation. good reputation also allows us to attract and retain the best talent. With the best people, we reinforce our ability to do excellent work and, again, enhance our reputation.” The logic of perpetual reinforcement.

Attracting talent
Survey respondents certainly believe Beca attracts talented employees. Many commented on it, like one who said: “Owned by their employees, they deliver on promises every time. They are trustworthy and have corporate responsibility to the community that is admirable.” The comments suggest Beca’s reputation strategy works well at the recruitment end of the business.
But Beca’s good reputation is also an effective market differentiator. “When clients choose to do business with us we hope they will respond to our reputation for technical excellence, for commitment to getting the job done and for being good to work with,” says Aitken. “All three of these reputation factors have positive commercial impact on client outcomes and, we think, help to differentiate us. We also want to be known for our willingness to partner with other firms, both nationally and internationally, to deliver the best results for clients.”
Beca was highly rated in this year’s survey for its strong and effective leadership. “Leadership has always been an important part of our culture,” Aitken responds. “It comes from the top. We had inspirational founders like George Beca and Sir Ron Carter. But it goes deeper than this. Sir Ron in particular, believed in delegating responsibility down so that everyone could make meaningful contribution.”
Beca is large group of very smart people. “But we only manage to leverage the energy, passion and innovation of these clever individuals if they are motivated to lead in team environment,” says Aitken. “We invest heavily in leadership development both externally and through our in-house programme. Our employee shareholding model gives us ‘partner in charge’ mentality.”
The approach delivers strong, stable and multi-layer leadership, says Aitken. “The leadership team is experienced with sound understanding of both the Beca business and the industries within which we operate.” Their leaders are also encouraged to volunteer their time to community endeavours and professional bodies.

Treated carefully
Beca also focuses strongly on its impressively sound financial management. “We must be financially strong to make the profits we re-invest, mostly in our people but also in systems to support our work for clients,” says Aitken. “We are continuously involved in advising clients on spending large sums of money. They expect us to treat their money as carefully as we treat our own,” he adds.
Of all the reputation performance measures, what perception would Aitken most want his peers to have of Beca?
“Our highest objective is for clients to feel that we have worked closely with them and understood them, that we have delivered value and, that their engagement with Beca was worthwhile.” He might, therefore, take heart from the comments of one survey respondent who said: “Beca is first-class service provider, managed and directed by people who adhere to the company’s core values of partnership, tenacity, enjoyment and care.”
Beca’s reputation has been meticulously and painstakingly cultivated. Its profile and business scale and scope have, however, grown dramatically over the past five to 10 years. Can it, therefore, keep its organisational reputation intact given the buffeting growth and increasing global competitiveness will inevitably deliver?
Aitken is optimistic. There are, he reasons, commercial pressures on all organisations in today’s business environment. “We live in quick-fix, short-term world. Beca must therefore be careful to keep focused on the importance of long-term relationships and long-term outcomes for its clients,” he says.
“We may have to accept some short-term challenges for ourselves along the way if we want to maintain and grow our reputation, but we’ll still focus on generating the best outcomes for our clients. Beca is often called on in times of crisis. Reputation can be enhanced by the way in which organisations deal with difficult situations or resolve problems.
“As an employee-owned business we can take longer term view of the business, its resilience and the overall benefits we can attain for our stakeholders,” Aitken says philosophically but with confidence in his assessment of the future. M


NZ’s Most Reputable company finalists
Air New Zealand

Rob Fyfe, CEO
At Air New Zealand we’ve worked hard to turn the traditional airline model on its head and centre our business on people, rather than planes. We have engaged our people to bring our culture and brand to life for our customers so that when passengers engage with us – before, during and after their flight – they experience genuine Kiwi personality and service that’s reflective of what makes New Zealand and New Zealanders special.
In order to achieve this we need 11,000 Air New Zealanders to make the right decisions and have the right conversations with our customers every day. It’s not easy; and it’s certainly not something you’ll find prescribed in text book. The key has been to unshackle our staff and allow them to be themselves and let their own personalities shine – while still maintaining the highest levels of professionalism.
The benefits for our business have been substantial. Air New Zealand is now consistently recognised as being one of the best performing, most innovative airlines in the world.

Fonterra
Andrew Ferrier, CEO
Everything we do in Fonterra is based on four values. Two of our values speak on what we need to do to perform – ‘Challenge Boundaries’ and ‘Make it Happen’. And two of our values speak to how we want to work. It is these two ‘from the heart’ values that are the cornerstone to Fonterra’s culture. These are ‘Do What’s Right’ and ‘Cooperative Spirit’.
“Do What’s Right” means, simply, work with honesty and integrity. Never compromise doing what’s right for profits. Be honest and forthright. And be humble.
Cooperative spirit pulls out of the richness of our team from our farmers who farm our milk, to our people all over the world. It is our people

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