Jodie Hurley is the NZ Water Practice Leader and Tauranga Office Lead for international engineering and advisory company, and Chamber Member Aurecon.
In this role, Jodie leads an 80-strong team of engineers and scientists to deliver building, transport, energy, and environmental projects locally and across the world. Although well-known locally for land development projects, Aurecon is part of a larger global network of 6,000+ employees across NZ, Australia, and Asia.
While enjoying the enviable Bay lifestyle, Jodie and her team have the opportunity to work on city-shaping projects such as Cameron Road, Te Ahu a Turanga: Manawatu Tararua Highway, Auckland City Rail Link, the rebuild of Christchurch and many multi-billion-dollar projects internationally.
Tell us a bit about yourself – your career to date, the journey that led you to the role you’re in today, that kind of thing.
Tauranga local. I moved here before I started school and did my schooling here before going away to University in Palmerston North.
After five years there, I was ready to come home, so I got my first job as a Wastewater Engineering Graduate at Tauranga City Council. From there, I joined the consulting world at MWH (now Stantec), where I spent seven years until the recession saw them close their office here.
I then joined Aecom, and after seven years, the same thing happened – the decision was made to close their office, and I was made redundant. I’m hoping to stay at Aurecon for longer than seven years!
What does your role at Aurecon entail?
Lots of emails and meetings! A lot of my role is about communicating and connecting people across Aurecon’s global business. It’s about talking to clients and working out who is the best person to help them (often it’s not me!) and using my knowledge to have conversations and make connections. We have a special culture here in our Aurecon Tauranga office, and a big part of my role is making sure our people have everything they need to feel engaged and happy.
What makes Aurecon unique?
The people and the way we think about things. Aurecon is a global company, but it has a different feel to it in terms of how we interact and engage with that global network.
In my work in the water space, I am in meetings with colleagues in Australia at least once a week – tapping into that knowledge and expertise is just so accessible at Aurecon. We have some amazing people that work with us, and they’re really approachable and helpful. I enjoy our focus on digital and how our Design to Innovate Tools can deliver fantastic outcomes for clients.
What has been one of your proudest moments in your career?
I get great satisfaction from seeing my team succeed. For example, winning the Cameron Road bid was a real achievement for us, and I’ve been so proud to see the team complete the design delivery for that project in a short time frame.
I’m also proud of the work our team are doing with Te Wharekura o Mauao showcasing careers in STEM to students. Everyone at Aurecon is entitled to volunteer leave each year, and our emerging and mid-career professionals are donating that time to spend with students doing presentations, tutoring, engineering activities and site visits to showcase what we do as engineers. I’m looking forward to seeing how that initiative evolves over the next 12 months.
What is one misconception that people might have about your industry?
Probably that there isn’t much diversity or flexibility. But engineering is actually a dynamic, forward-thinking industry, and I’ve seen a real shift over the last few years in terms of organisations giving people greater flexibility to balance their work and other commitments – whether that be family, sporting or other hobbies. At Aurecon, we focus on diversity and inclusion, and our YesFlex policy provides flexible working for everyone, regardless of role or location.
How can we make leadership roles more accessible?
I think we need to really challenge the idea that there is a certain way a leader looks or there are certain traits you need to be a leader. Being a good leader isn’t necessarily about having the most technical expertise; it’s more about understanding people, being a good communicator and having empathy. I also think it’s important that we create a culture where it’s okay not to be the leader, and where people feel comfortable to step into and out of leadership roles, and that is accepted and the norm.
Leadership can take a lot of different forms, and sometimes the right thing to do – for the business and yourself – is to say, “You know what, I’m going to pass this time and let someone else have that opportunity.” Team leadership is not the only way to be a leader – there are many ways to lead without having to have a specific role or title.
What are some of your professional and personal goals for the next 6 to 12 months?
I’ve just taken on the role of Chair of the Bay of Plenty branch of Engineering New Zealand, which will be a great new challenge for me.
I’ve been on the Engineering NZ BOP Committee for some time, focusing on increasing diversity in the sector through the schools’ outreach programme. I’m looking forward to building on that work as Chair.
When you’re not at work, how do you like to spend your time?
I have horses, so breeding, training, competing, and teaching others takes up a lot of my time. I also have two kids and play a bit of squash, so it’s very busy outside of work as well!