Ian Fraser is the Executive General Manager - Asia Pacific for GHD and was recently elected President of ACE New Zealand. He gave us his thoughts on how he would like to see the organisation develop over the next few years.
Ian, tell us about yourself?
When I was young, my family lived in several rural areas in both the South and North Island before settling in the Bay of Plenty. After leaving secondary school, I attended Auckland University, where I completed a BSc and MSc in Geology. I also returned to Auckland University 10 years later and completed a Diploma in Business.
Where was your first consulting job?
My first "proper job" was with Groundwater and Civil, a small consulting group in Auckland. This group became part of several acquisitions and grew into a genuinely multinational firm, which gave rise to some exciting opportunities for me here and overseas. While the majority of my career has been in Aotearoa, I did spend four years in the US during the '90s and was lucky to work on projects throughout Asia, the Pacific and more recently in South America.
My current role is General Manager for the APAC businesses of GHD, and I am part of our Global Executive Team. As part of this role, I have responsibility for our New Zealand, Pacific, Asian and South American businesses, which until COVID intervened earlier this year, has meant a reasonable amount of international travel to spend time in our offices and with clients around the world. I also remain committed to the development of training pathways that lead to roles within our industry.
What prompted you to put your name forward for the ACE New Zealand board?
I've worked with large firms over the length of my career, and I have seen several senior people become involved with ACE New Zealand with one or two of them ultimately taking over as President of the organisation. I watched the contribution they were able to make to the industry and the reward they got from being involved at board level with the organisation, and that inspired me to put my name forward; giving back to the industry is something I'm particularly passionate about.
I've just completed a full three-year term on the board and am enthused about our development as a group. I feel very optimistic about the direction that we are heading as an organisation, and that led to accepting the role of President.
What are your aspirations for ACE New Zealand over the next three years?
To become increasingly influential with central and regional government to ensure we have a healthy marketplace in New Zealand with a promising pipeline of opportunities and reasonable terms of engagement.
Importantly, we need to continue to deliver and become known for the valuable information we provide and the forums we make available to our members which help them succeed as a business and create great workplaces.
Finally, along with other related industry associations, we can make some real step changes to increase awareness around consulting as a career path. The changes are essential to ensure we continue to attract a diverse range of talent that is representative of the communities we work in.
What are the top three challenges for the sector over the next 12 months?
We are still to feel the full impact of the challenges that are coming from the COVID-19 pandemic, but it's clear that there has been a contraction in some sectors resulting in member firms having to reduce employee numbers.
The potential for the loss of talent from our industry into other career paths or to overseas markets is a risk and challenge that we need to try and avoid during this time. Our membership includes a wide range of companies from sole operators to large multinationals, so the challenges that are most important to our members will vary significantly. For some, the most critical concern may be the increasing cost and access to appropriate insurances. In contrast, for others, it may be the cost of lengthy procurement processes in the infrastructure sector.
ACE New Zealand has a role to play across the full range of challenges to ensure our members can continue to operate successful businesses.
However, common to all our members is the challenge or responsibility we have to remain an attractive and exciting career path for school leavers so that we can attract and retain New Zealand's best talent from a range of backgrounds.
How do you think the industry will change over the next few years?
The introduction of a broader range of digital technology into the industry is going to require constant change and new thinking. The new software that is now available will allow us to complete our routine tasks digitally, and that is requiring us to think more strategically.
We're also seeing the industry diversify into digital consulting and advisory services. It's an exciting time for the industry that will require the recruitment of people with a diverse range of qualifications while the scope of services that we are providing is morphing all the time
What do you like to do for fun?
Since moving to the South Island 16 years ago, I have developed a real passion for the outdoors, and like many, whenever I get a chance, I am out on my bike, kayaking on our big braided rivers or exploring the mountain areas. I have four sons who are all now young adults, so I also enjoy hanging out with them whenever our paths cross.