Simon Fenton

Simon FentonCompany: WSP

Job title: Principal Contract Engineer 

About Simon

I am a Principal Contract Engineer at WSP, and currently undertake the role of Construction Phase Services Manager on the City Rail Link (CRL) project in Auckland. I have a civil engineering background with international experience in the UK, New Zealand and the South Pacific specialising in the design, delivery and contract management of major transportation projects.

I have governance and board experience and apply these skills to support WSP, projects, clients and stakeholders. I’m passionate about people leadership, mentoring, collaborative working and organisational performance, which have been key parts of my career to date.

Pepeha or whakapapa/family history

Tēnā koutou katoa
Ko Ingarangi te whakapaparanga mai
Ko Bradford, Ingarangi te whenua tupu
E noho ana ahau ki Tāmaki Makaurau
Ko Simon Fenton au
He Principal Contract Engineer au mo WSP
Tēnā tātou katoa

I am Simon Fenton, originally from West Yorkshire in England but have been fortunate to have made New Zealand my home for the past 12 years. Most of my family are in England but I am proudly engaged to a Kiwi and we are living in Auckland.

What is your strategic vision for ACE New Zealand?

I see ACE being the leader in sharing global industry trends, innovation and technology, as well as best practices and risks. This is achievable by leveraging ACE’s international network, including those of ACE members, and continuing to connect members as they share knowledge and experience. Likewise, I want ACE to use these networks to highlight to the world some of the fantastic projects and unique innovations that are created here in Aotearoa.
I would like ACE to help develop our industry by supporting individuals within our member firms, through training and accreditation programmes. I would also like to see a focus on mentoring softer skills such as leadership, culture and wellbeing. These critical skills are often overshadowed by the technical aspects of our industry.
This approach will aid our sector to be more people and client focused, serving the best solutions to our communities.

ACE has the ability to align our industry to solve some of our biggest challenges in Aotearoa, such as reaching net zero, adapting to climate change, addressing our skill shortages and adopting new technologies, including AI. This can be achieved through continuing to strengthen our relationships with other associations and finding opportunities to advocate on common goals.

What strengths would you bring to the ACE New Zealand Board?

Advocacy goes beyond technical aspects and aims to bring systematic change by challenging norms and giving individuals and businesses a voice. One of my strengths is creating and nurturing trusted relationships, fostering collaboration, and empowering people to voice their ideas.

As a past winner of the ‘Future Leader Award’, I’ve gained board experience with ACE, and so I understand how the association functions and what’s required. I also contributed to the 2023 five-year strategy and helped facilitate interactives with the wider ACE Team. Through this, I understand where ACE wants to go and I have the energy to help drive transformation.

I’m passionate about people and building strong organisational cultures. Creating high-performing teams and developing individuals is my forte. Wellbeing is a big part of this, and I see it as a key factor in improving performance through creation of healthy workplaces. My experience in developing wellness strategies and programmes has shown me the tangible benefits they bring to projects and organisations. These skills could support ACE in the development of softer skills for individuals and businesses.

As a civil engineer with a solid background in contract management, I understand industry challenges and have the experience to drive improvements, especially in project delivery and construction phases.

What does diversity and inclusion mean to you?

Diversity and inclusion are not just “buzzwords”, they are guiding principles that drive positive change and foster innovation, creativity and empathy.

Diversity in general and within our industry needs to improve and there are systemic issues with equal opportunities that need to be addressed. This effort must go beyond box-ticking. We have to understand the benefits of a diverse team, such as bringing together individuals with varied backgrounds, experiences and perspectives. Such diversity is critical for challenging the norm.  It does this through inspiring creativity and innovation by enabling teams to approach challenges from multiple angles, resulting in more robust and bespoke solutions. As a leader, I have experienced the many benefits of a diverse team and will continue to advocate for it.

Inclusion is creating an environment that fosters understanding and breaks down the barriers that block voices and views. It is about listening to people and groups that are not always heard, amplifying them within a safe space to express their views. There are still many opportunities for Aotearoa and in our industry to truly embrace an inclusive culture, and ACE is in a great position to listen to and share the voices of its diverse community to support this.

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