Consultancy, New Zealand
Whether it’s working in extreme temperatures, amid political unrest or on remote islands – taking on a challenge is what Will Fairbairn does best. With over 20 years of experience under his belt, Will has returned home to take on his next big challenge - leading Mace’s first office in New Zealand.
- How did you get to where you are today?
After I studied engineering in New Zealand I was awarded a Masters scholarship to Cornell University in the United States. I returned home to implement the skills I had learnt with a project management firm, working on the ski fields of Coronet peak and at Queenstown airport. A chance encounter at a wedding introduced me to Mace and before I knew it I was transported from the harsh cold winter in NZ to the middle of summer in Dubai.
I’ve travelled the world with Mace, working on billion dollar projects in Dubai, carrying out technical audits and design reviews in Libya, managing a design team for 5 star hotels in Azerbaijan and working on the BahaMar resort in the Bahamas. After a whirlwind decade working on so many amazing projects I left Mace to return home to New Zealand to assist in the earthquake rebuild effort by applying my skills to a social housing programme. Two years later, I jumped at the chance to rejoin Mace when the Board was looking to open an office in Auckland.
- What did you gain from your time overseas?
It’s given me invaluable skills, the ability to adapt quickly and knowledge of the end-to-end project life-cycle across a wide range of sectors and services, including some really large scale projects. With NZ starting to think about projects that have never been undertaken on its shores before, in terms of scale, technology, or complexity, it’s great to be able to sit down with clients and point to where I’ve done something similar and apply what I know.
- What do you bring to the table as Country Manager for New Zealand?
Having worked in NZ before I have local market knowledge, and being a Kiwi I have a genuine interest in being part of projects that create a legacy for the country. I understand the challenges my clients are facing with supply chain issues, time frames and delivery methods and I know the context they’re operating in. The way to interact with consultants or supply chain partners is bespoke to NZ so it’s important to understand this and manage projects within those parameters.
There are great opportunities in NZ. Auckland has unprecedented growth across the rail, housing, aviation and infrastructure sectors and I’m in a good position to showcase Mace’s expertise in delivery and to bring best practice from around the world.
- What do you enjoy most about your role?
The opportunity to introduce a large international brand into a country I am connected with and the chance to show how Mace does things differently. I get to work for a company that’s made an impact on the world stage and I can reach back into the knowledge and experience pool within Mace to offer different approaches and solutions to clients in NZ. These global experts within Mace aren’t just names on a page, they are people committed to the growth of a brand and to delivering their expertise to grow our business here.
- What advice would you give to someone wanting to get into project management?
To be a project manager your job is to add value, lead people and look for opportunities to provide something different for your clients. You need to have confidence that you have something to offer. Don’t take an answer as a given - make sure you challenge the norm and have your own voice.
- What are you passionate about outside of work?
I love to be surrounded by nature; it was one of the big draws of returning home. I always try and make the most of the environment I’m in, from training for an ultra-marathon in Libya, competing in the Trans Rockies running race in Colorado, to skiing the trees in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. New Zealand is a big playground when it comes to the outdoors, it helps to maintain balance in my life and re-energises me for the challenges ahead.
“Having worked in NZ before I have local market knowledge, and being a Kiwi I have a genuine interest in being part of projects that create a legacy for the country. ”