Chief Technical Officer Beca Group
Director and Chair, Beca New Zealand
Bachelor of Engineering - Mechanical Engineering, 1987
Inspiring NZ’s Future Engineers.
In his 30 year career with international engineering firm, Beca, Craig Price has progressed from graduate engineer to a group wide leadership role. Passionate about the profession, he has also taken on roles with a number of associations and advisory boards. Craig believes that the key to his success is simply loving what he does. “When you enjoy what you're doing you start to extend yourself. You become motivated to get involved. Everyone says it looks like hard work, but you get more out than you put in.”
What was your path to where you are today?
I studied a Bachelor of Engineering with honours at UC from 1983 to 86. When I left uni I started with the Ministry of Works, which was the government engineering department at the time. After a couple of years I joined Beca, who I've been with for almost 30 years. I’ve gone from being a graduate engineer to becoming involved in the management and governance of the organisation.
What's it like to have worked for the same company for such a long time?
When you think about the various people and projects you’ve been involved with, it all adds up to a lot of variety. I love consulting because you’re doing different things with different clients. I've worked on hospitals, sports arenas, thermal resorts. I’ve had the opportunity to do a lot of travel and work on projects overseas. I certainly haven't been stuck in a rut!
What does your present role at Beca involve?
Recently I’ve been appointed Chief Technical Officer for the wider Beca group, which has 3,500 employees across New Zealand, Australia and Southeast Asia. I'll still be based in Christchurch but focused on leading the professional practice of the group. I'm really passionate about how we deliver and keep our head above the pack, so I’m looking forward to having significant influence in that area.
Thinking back, what initally drew you to engineering?
I'd had my heart set on engineering from my early teens. I liked the way it had tangible outcomes. You could see something you design come to fruition. Even today I enjoy designing something, like a hot pool at Hamner Springs, and then taking my family along to use it. Engineering is a creative profession that brings together science, a bit of art and a lot of problem-solving.
You have some continued affiliation with UC, can you tell us about that?
I'm on a couple of engineering advisory boards at UC. I enjoy being able to provide professional perspective to them, and I get insights into what they’re doing as well. I value those roles because I appreciated what I got from UC as a student, and I like being able to make a contribution and give back in some way.
Do you have any association with UC students themselves?
Actually my two kids go to UC! My daughter is about to graduate with a double degree in Arts and Health Sciences. My son is doing Engineering Intermediate, no massive surprise there! Also, at Beca we have a scholarship program. Each year we award six scholarships to second or third year engineering students. I get to interview the finalists and that's a wonderful afternoon.
What's your impression of engineering students these days?
Pretty impressive actually! Most people of my generation agree that the students coming out today seem to be more dedicated and committed. I think the UC engineering school is producing really good all-round students. They teach both technical and professional skills. I recently attended final year project presentations for both the Civil and the Mechanical Department and to see those final year students standing up and presenting their work was outstanding.
You’ve won a few awards in your time – congratulations! Which one are you most proud of?
In 2014 I won the the Fulton Downer Gold Medal for my service to the profession across a range of areas. That was a personal highlight for me. I took both my wife, my parents and my kids to the ceremony! But my proudest moment was being invited to give a speech at UC Engineering graduation last year. Leveraging the opportunities I've had in order to help others is really important to me.
What's the secret to achieving as much as you have?
Really loving what I do. When you enjoy what you're doing you start to extend yourself. You become motivated to get involved in things like professional associations and advisory boards. Everyone says it looks like hard work, but you get more out of it than you put in.
What’s the most valuable piece of advice you’d give to a young engineer?
Make sure you find something you're passionate about and then give it 100%. Don't sit back and wait for opportunities to come to you, get involved.
What excites you about the future of engineering?
We hear about things like disruptive technology and artificial intelligence. Engineering is driving those. We are at the heart of this exciting and slightly scary (for me) future. Engineering is certainly not a profession that's going to become redundant.