NZ Geomechanics News

Letters to the Editor

The Editor
New Zealand Geomechanics News

Don Taylor’s Contribution to the Society

In the very good obituary to Don Taylor published in NZ Geomechanics News, Issue 91 (June 2016) I noted that there was only a very brief mention of the very important role he played in the development of our Society during the 1970’s decade, when he was Chairman from 1974/77.

The Society was first established in the late 1950’s as the New Zealand National Committee of the International Society for Soil Mechanics and Foundation Engineering. It acted as a communication point between the International Society and the local engineering institution (then called the New Zealand Institution of Engineers). For the first ten years of its life, there was only a very limited amount of local activity generated by the Society and it had a very small membership. Don Taylor’s colleague, Ralph Tonkin was the fourth Chairman of the Society for two years in 1967/69.

The big change occurred in 1972 when the name was changed to the New Zealand Geomechanics Society which also became the National Committee for communication with the International Association of Engineering Geology (IAEG) and also for the International Society for Rock Mechanics (ISRM). The rest of the 1970’s decade was the time for very rapid expansion as the Society moved from being a small technical group of NZIE towards being a fully fledged technical society by the end of that decade. Don became the sixth Chairman of the Society from 1974/77 and, during this time, the activities of the Society greatly expanded, with local groups being established and membership of the Society greatly increased.

Don Taylor’s wise counsel and leadership of this Society during those three years was a major contribution to the ongoing development of the Society towards the organisation we know today. I was fortunate to be able to succeed Don as the seventh Chairman of the Society from 1977/80 and helped continue the process through to the end of the decade.

John Blakeley
Life Member
New Zealand Geotechnical Society


To the Editor

Redefining the Geotechnical space

Com’on we all know Geotechnical Engineering is highly technical and let’s be honest, not the most exciting of engineering professions – or is it?!

Having just joined CMW I was very surprised with my first impressions of the company: a whole lot of younger Geotechnical Engineers very much setting the tone for engineering as a profession, which made me rethink why such talented and motivated people found Geosciences appealing and would consider this an interesting and long term career proposition.

The image we might still have of highly experienced but ‘stuffy’ older men, is something I can see being revolutionised as we attract the brightest minds into construction and alongside a booming construction sector it looks like the future of New Zealand Engineering Sciences is in a very good place with vibrant prospects ahead.

What does this come down to, I asked myself, thinking the best place to get answers is to ask the very people who make Geosciences look good as a lifelong career choice.

Coming into the organisation as business development manager it is my job to snoop around and get a sense of how staff talk to each other and how this translates into thinking about the business overall, and couldn’t help overhearing a conversation regarding how our customers saw us and what they thought were the key qualities, which made us attractive to do business with, summed up in 3 words:

‘Attentiveness and responsiveness’

Pete: Geotechnical Engineer

‘It means we are responsive and personally involved with the customer, easily accessible and on hand at any time to answer questions and give assurances, and basically available when and where the customer needs it.’

Pete is one of the new breed of young Engineers, quick, smart minded and very customer focussed.

Pete explains, “the whole process from the initial call, quoting, doing the work, reporting, customer follow up and even debt collection is largely handled by each individual Geotechnical consultant from
woe to go.”

The upshot from what I was hearing is the Geotechnical engineer becomes very familiar with the ‘whole of project,’ so much so they intimately understand the process of dealing and doing business with customers in all situations, helping them to develop as all rounded and ‘grounded’ consultants.

This also helps develop a unique insight in how to handle a variety of project issues and personalities, as well as effectively deliver a great result having gone through the correct peer review and signoff procedure.


Kieran: Engineering Geologist

Moments after talking to Pete I was approached by Kieran recently arrived from Perth to be part of the New Zealand construction scene.

He started by explaining his background in Science emphasising his interest and ‘love’ for the business side of Geosciences, passion for client interaction and building long term and successful relationships with customers.

We also got onto the subject of technology and the future of Geosciences, and how this ultimately would be led by young Geoscientists coming into the profession with skills not previously part of the sector, now naturally applied as a ‘normal’ way of doing their work.

“Oh, by the way I am really keen on demonstrating 3D Engineering models as I have a passion for art and design and would love to get into the BIM animations for our clients as well.”

“As the construction industry above the ground has been revolutionised by 3D modelling in all their design development, CMW uses the technology in their Geotechnical investigation and reporting with the advantages of digital animation to demonstrate ground conditions in a way that is easily understood by construction companies and their non-construction clients.”

OMG I thought, a man of science with a bent for the ‘creative side’ of business with a Geology Degree as well, perfect balance of ‘left brain and right brain,’ unheard of I thought until now.


Chelsie: Engineering Geologist

I was also struck by another young Geologist who seemed to stand out in what is, let’s face it, still a male dominated profession, so sat down for a chat with Chelsie and got straight into asking what attracted her into something, which may still not be a natural career choice for many women of her age.

“From the start I liked the idea of a job with variety, the outdoors and the whole science behind the Geotechnical industry.”
“But, for most ‘girls’ (her words) I think the physical aspect might be a little daunting especially as it does require drilling holes and that is a bit of a challenge!”
“So,” I asked, “how did you get around that?”
“Well you have to be tough, but I can cope and with the whole team helping with heavy lifting we get the job done”
“And overall, how do you like the industry.”

“I love it, it is such a challenge, highly skilled, technical and a great career choice for women, if only they understood what Engineering is really all about and how they can get into it and enjoy it as a great job with plenty of challenges and lots of opportunity”
We finished by agreeing she really was a great ambassador for ‘girls’, as she put it, to follow her lead and join an industry with great career prospects, a buoyant future and great remuneration.

CMW is headed by a senior team of Consulting Geotechnical Directors and a dozen or so senior management Consultants across the group in Australia and New Zealand representing a vast amount of construction experience and depth and breadth in Geotechnical expertise, which has generated phenomenal growth for the company.

However, it is the sheer energy and vitality the younger engineers bring to the job, something to be encouraged and harnessed, as a positive and exciting way of doing business with new ideas and fresh perspectives.

The focus on young people as they graduate and seek opportunities in the workforce should be a real catalyst for building a dynamic culture where not only their professional skills are fostered and developed but their enthusiasm and exuberance is heard, listened to and acted on.

Frans Huysmans
Business Development Manager
CMW Geosciences




Tags : #Frans Huysmans#John Blakeley

NZ Geomechanics News
NZ Geomechanics News>Issue 92 - December 2016

Leave a Reply