Simon Taylor

Company: Cosgroves

Job title: Director and General Manager

About Simon 

With a lifelong career in engineering, starting as an apprentice at 16, I now serve as the General Manager and Director of Cosgroves – a 95-person consulting firm specialising in building services, fire and civil engineering, with five offices across the motu. Previously, I held roles at Aurecon and MWH (now Stantec) and Worley Consulting (became Meritec and now AECOM) in New Zealand. I was with Oscar Faber in the UK.

Trained as a mechanical engineer (CPEng), my focus has been on HVAC and energy systems design. Now, my day revolves around ensuring the health, safety and diversity of our team, managing projects, maintaining high-quality work, overseeing recruitment and business operations, and fostering emerging talent. My passion is the consulting side of the engineering profession, striving to enhance sustainability outcomes in our projects and nurturing emerging talent.

Outside of work, I thrive in the outdoors. I’m an avid mountain biker, mainly exploring Christchurch’s Port Hills and the odd weekend mission. I also enjoy tramping, skiing, diving, fishing and boating, especially when shared with my wife and sons.

Pepeha or whakapapa/family history

I live in Ōhikaparuparu Sumner, Ōtautahi Christchurch, with my wife Annie and our two teenage boys. I came from the UK in 1995, finding Sumner soon after I arrived. I decided to make it my home as the area contains all the things I enjoy in life. My immediate family are in the UK. They now live near Oxford, England, but my parents and their recent ancestors came from Sussex and Kent in South East England and South Wales. I’ve been fortunate to become part of my wife’s family who whakapapa to Ōtepoti Dunedin and Waihōpai Invercargill. They now live in Tahuna Queenstown, which is another place that I spend a significant part of my life. Particular areas that I’ve come to know and love include Horomaka Banks Peninsula, Whakatipu Kā Tuka Hollyford River and Te Tauihu o to Waka Marlborough Sounds regions.

What is your strategic vision for ACE New Zealand?

The strategy for ACE will be developed in collaboration with the rest of the board/operational staff, so it’s too early for me to prejudge what that might be. Instead, I'll offer insights into the key industry areas important to me. As a nation, we face considerable and growing infrastructure challenges, which the engineering profession must respond to. We need additional highly skilled engineers, project managers, engineering technicians, administrators and business leaders to address these problems, driving sustainable solutions to benefit our country's productivity and people's wellbeing. The current challenges, including workflow decline and uncertainty, highlight the disconnect between Government decisions and our profession's insights. Empowering our professionals to influence both central and local government for effective national delivery is paramount. Developing a pipeline of talent to the industry is vital. We are competing with other professions for the same people. We need to create an industry that’s attractive for people to join, while providing them with encouragement and training – ensuring that our industry develops a diverse group of people with the right skills. This training needs to be in the engineering sphere of disciplines, as well as others that foster great consultants.

What strengths would you bring to the ACE Board?

With experience across various engineering consulting firms, I offer a broad industry perspective and the capability to advocate for the diverse interests of all members. I get the bigger picture! I oversee a mid-sized consulting firm and I am well-acquainted with the challenges we encounter in prosperous and difficult times. Positioned in the middle, I appreciate the consulting world from the perspective of both smaller practices and larger organisations. The strengths I bring as company director - I leverage strong relationships with industry stakeholders. I develop and execute strategies for sustainable growth and resilience, implement systems to ensure the health and safety of our team, and foster leadership for succession planning. Additionally, I have a natural aptitude for recruiting key positions and managing risks effectively. I believe that the future of my own business is bright, and I endeavour to bring that excitement to the ACE Board and the future of engineering.

I’ve recently stepped down from the Scape Public Art Trust Board where I served eight years as a trustee. Scape facilitates the installation of public artworks in and around Ōtautahi Christchurch. I believe this has added to my governance experience significantly and I can bring diverse thinking from that experience.

What does diversity and inclusion mean to you?

This is still a significant challenge within my own business – we are currently developing our first diversity and inclusion policy document. For me it’s about creating an environment where anyone can come and be a part of the team and feel welcome and included. At face value, this statement sounds relatively simple to achieve. However, upon examining our company's behaviours, I've noticed that our leaders (including myself) often act instinctively, albeit with good intentions, which leads to a disparity between the statement and our actual practices. We need people to change their behaviours and to recognise that their daily actions may hinder a diverse workforce. I believe that this is going to take time and persistence, but it’s essential for attracting top talented people into our business and industry.

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