Some people take a long time to find their ideal job. Some never find it. Not so Geoff Nash, General Manager, Brosnan Construction, who started in the industry young and has been on an upwards trajectory since.
Q. You first wanted to be a builder back in primary school. What sparked your passion?
My mum was having a new home built when I was 5, and we would go to the site to see the progress. No doubt this is where my passion for the construction industry started. How exciting would it have been as a 5-year-old boy to be on site seeing your new house built right before your eyes?
It’s continuous improvement that I’m passionate about, and it’s easy to get that in construction. You can get it with your hands or by applying your mind. Anyone can get it.
The woodwork teacher at Glenfield College used to have me excused from English so I could stay in the woodwork room. He got me a part-time job in a timber joinery factory and encouraged me to leave school early to start my career. I remember his advice vividly ‘You’re wasting your time here.’ Although controversial, I think that was the best advice I could have had.
Since then, I’ve had several roles – timber machinist, timber joiner, estimator, quantity surveyor, site manager, project manager, commercial manager, regional manager and now general manager. Most were with Brosnan Construction, which I joined when it was small, and it has grown very fast. I’ve just had to get stuck in doing whatever is required of me to support our growth.
Q. I’ve read that your career goal is to become the CEO of New Zealand’s largest construction company. Do you have a strategy to reach that goal?
That’s a goal I’ve had a lot of flak for, so I’m reluctant to say, but yes, I’m currently studying an Executive MBA with Massey University.
Given my early start, at some point in my career, I’ll have more experience than anyone else. In the top job of the largest firm in New Zealand, I think you would have the best chance of influencing positive change in the industry.
Q. A quest for learning and developing seems apparent, given your career history. What drives you to continually self-improve?
I get a lot of satisfaction from sharing my experiences to support others, and as they grow, I seek out opportunities to develop and grow myself. Constantly learning and passing on that new-found knowledge helps me find meaning and progress.
Q. How does this show up in your career – for example, you won the 2018 BCITO Young Achiever Excellence Award for your skills. What did this mean to you?
I’ve always thought it was a good idea to pair any practical experiences with theory. That’s why I completed two apprenticeships, a National Diploma in Construction Management, a National Diploma in Quantity Surveying and a Bachelor of Construction. Winning the young achiever award feels like the industry’s way of saying ‘thanks for your contributions so far, keep it up’.
Q. You work on some big commercial projects and are responsible for securing and delivering big-ticket projects – what are the challenges and satisfactions these bring?
At Brosnan, we enjoy working on complex projects, whether that’s simply finishing by the expected date, delivering superior quality or something far more complex like recladding a 21-storey building while the residents and guests continue to reside in 19 of the 21 floors.
The only way these types of projects can be delivered is through fostering a collaborative working environment. It is important to me that the procurement model and contract reflect this, which is something that a lot of people – or their lawyers and funders – fail to understand.
I enjoy helping clients with their unique needs, tailoring our service to work for them and receiving feedback about how well our project teams are doing when it comes together. Nothing makes me prouder than a positive testimonial from a customer who had a very challenging project.
Q. What are the big issues facing the construction industry, and are changes to the current construction model likely?
At present, the commercial construction industry isn’t a particularly attractive industry to be involved in. The barrier to entry is set very low, and competition is fierce. The demand for resources exceeds the supply, and powerful clients and their procurement strategies force everyone on a race to the bottom.
Having said this, a good business strategy and vision would do wonders for a lot of companies. How many companies have actually chosen what they will and, more importantly, won’t do?
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