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Sailing Away

It was with a mix of sadness, well-wishing and plain old envy that we say goodbye to Peter Vause, as he retired this year and therefore left us to explore new territories. As Peter wound down his time with RDT Pacific, it seemed an excellent opportunity to capture his thoughts in an ‘exit interview’ with a difference.

Why did you choose this career path?
I originally trained as an architect. I was fortunate to do my training in the days when the Ministry of Works had a training programme that assisted students through University. After six years working as an architect, I came to the conclusion that while I was technically a good architect and a better than average space planner, there were others who were more creative. But I found I was actually very good at managing architects. I did some research and found a course at Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh which offered an MSc in Project Management. Again I was very fortunate to be awarded a scholarship to travel to Scotland and do the course. I did my thesis on “Encouraging innovation in Government Building and Property organisations”

Complete this sentence. ‘If I wasn’t a Project Manager, I’d be…
A yacht charter skipper

How has the industry changed since you started?
There have been quite a few technical changes in the industry since 1981 when I first started. The procurement process has changed greatly. Materials have evolved and our choice of these has widened (although clearly some of these materials proved themselves unsuitable for New Zealand). Related to this, our regulatory framework has tightened following the leaky buildings era. In addition to this we have a more robust Building Code and health and safety standards. While buildings have tended to become more complex, time pressures have also increased. And we’re also seeing increased specialisation coupled with a lack of integration.

And where is it going?
Generally speaking, I foresee more specialisation but less overall accountability.

With your experience directing projects in Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan, how does the discipline of project management compare between NZ and Asia?
New Zealanders and Australians are highly regarded for our generalist skills, and our ability to work up and down the social hierarchy.

You have a Masters in Project Management. How vital is it to have formal qualifications in this field?
Only as vital as evidence that you have done some study and gained knowledge and understanding. The best experience is hands on, solving real life problems and working with people.

Why did you choose to work for RDT Pacific? Or did it choose you?
A bit of both!

And what’s next for you?
My wife Karen and I are both keen sailors, and in 2012 we bought a cruising yacht with plans to refit it and eventually cruise the Pacific and further afield, when the kids left home. Like the best projects, our plans have progressed ahead of schedule. We’ll stay in Christchurch until Christmas and then move aboard the yacht in Picton, eventually relocating to Auckland in final preparation for an April 2016 departure to Tonga. From there we will sail to other Pacific Islands, North Eastern Australia and South East Asia. We also have a choice to make between Sri Lanka, Madagascar and South Africa, or… Turkey and Mediterranean. It’s a tough one!