While as architects we clearly recognise the importance of business in the way we interact with clients, we realised we needed to import greater in-depth expertise in order to communicate more strongly with our end users – our clients and the people and communities that inhabit our buildings.Peter Marshall, Managing Director
We are pleased to announced three new executive appointments to assist and manage the expansion of the practice in New Zealand, Australia and the Asia/Pacific region.
The appointments, which are newly created positions, include: Amy Phillips, Group Brand and Communications Officer; Aaron Beveridge, Group Chief Financial Officer, and Sarah Coleman, Chief People and Culture Officer.
Managing Director Peter Marshall said that he and his fellow directors recognised that, for the practice to reach its next stage of development and growth, it needed to introduce people with a wider range of specialist knowledge and skills.
“While as architects we clearly recognise the importance of business in the way we interact with clients, we realised we needed to import greater in-depth expertise in order to communicate more strongly with our end users – our clients and the people and communities that inhabit our buildings.
“We are growing and becoming more sophisticated, as is the world we occupy, and to bring the best service to our clients, we need to have people with special skills for specialist jobs.”
Marshall said these appointments would allow a return to “our core expertise and skills as architects.”
Over the past decade our practice, which last year celebrated its 60th anniversary, has expanded from a staff of 90 to our current team of around 290 people in seven studios in both New Zealand and Australia.
The three appointees bring a wealth of local and international experience to their new roles.
Amy Phillips joined the practice from the position of General Manager for Colenso BBDO/Proximity (part of the Clemenger Group), where she was lead executive on the Spark, BNZ and VISA accounts. During her time in this role, Colenso/BBDO was recognised as New Zealand’s most effective agency of the year in 2016. Prior to that Amy spent seven years at Clemenger Group agencies Clemenger BBDO Melbourne and CHE Proximity in Australia as well as working with Wunderman in London, Melbourne and Auckland.
At Warren and Mahoney Phillips says she wants to “harness the power of our brand.”
“My mandate is to develop strategies that continue to drive the business forward and to ensure the things that have made Warren and Mahoney great are scalable so we succeed in more markets.”
“The role of the brand should be as a business unifying platform: the connective tissue between our brilliant people, our clients and the market.”
Warren and Mahoney already has a very strong brand, she says, and is known for large-scale developments, craftsmanship and safe hands that deal with the most challenging projects. However, in Australia, she says, “As the new people in town, we have to tell a different story. That freshness is compelling and people will be interested to know what it is that makes us different. We have a legacy in New Zealand but we need to make that relevant and compelling in the Australian context.”
Phillips says that the way Warren and Mahoney can further differentiate itself, and continue to grow is through a focus on customer experience, and “the way you design customer experience is through putting yourselves in the shoes of clients and solving their needs.”
Phillips says her past experience has been based on understanding clients’ unmet needs and effectively developing new ways of being useful and valuable.
“In Melbourne I was involved in transforming a large agency and redefining it based on technology, which is disrupting all our industries including architecture. There are similarities between architecture firms and creative agencies. We are both selling the value of craft and design. Importantly we are selling a vision and getting buy in into that vision through trust.”
Aaron Beveridge, who has been appointed Group Chief Financial Officer, spent nearly 10 years in Abu Dhabi and Dubai working for Etihad Airways.
Beveridge, who has a Bachelor of Management Studies from the University of Waikato, qualified as a chartered accountant and worked for companies as diverse as Nestle and Vodafone before deciding to work overseas. An early-morning phone call from Etihad Airways asking him to fly to Abu Dhabi for a job interview gave him that opportunity.
“I didn’t know anything about the United Arab Emirates and even less about Abu Dhabi and Etihad.”
From Vice President of Finance he was promoted to Vice President of Supply Chain Management, a role which included all the procurement for the airline including some interesting experiences negotiating with the Chinese over oil deals. Beveridge says that anyone with “initiative” did well at Etihad and he finished his time there as Vice President of Project Management Office.
After nearly 10 years in the Middle East he was approached by CityCare in post-earthquake Christchurch, which looked after the below-ground infrastructure. At the end of 2015, he joined Dairy NZ, which provided scientific research for the dairy industry.
He says he was attracted to Warren and Mahoney because “first and foremost their product is about great design. We can’t deliver great design unless we have great people. We can’t attract great people unless we are doing great projects. Here is a company that gets the connection between all the key elements that contribute to success.
“I come from a world where every month there were a set of narrow financial goals and people had to make a lot of short-term decisions, not always for the best strategically. That business model has become very awkward for me to become connected to as the longer-term success was being sacrificed for short-term, one-dimensional goals”
Beveridge asked the board of Warren and Mahoney how they scored “success”.
“It hinged on being in certain markets and having an excellent brand and clear strategic plan. Warren and Mahoney has a desire to carry out a wide range of diverse projects; value architectural design and quality; ensure our people are challenged and excited by the projects, which all ensures an appropriate business outcome. It was the first time I had heard someone valuing those things equally.
“My goal is to be able to measure success every month in a balanced scorecard styled methodology. The company wants to track its clients, its people, its financial performance, its projects and its initiatives. To get to the next stage of growth we need to score this in a way that we can know if we are behind or ahead of where we want to be. That is the fascinating part for me.”
Sarah Coleman, who has been appointed Chief People and Culture Officer, brings broad experience in human resources from New Zealand and overseas.
Coleman has spent much of her career working in professional services. After gaining her legal qualification, she worked as an employment lawyer in New Zealand and London, and then moved into consulting roles in two global human resources consultancies. After gaining corporate experience with SKYCITY Entertainment Group, Sarah returned to professional services as HR Director for leading law firm, Chapman Tripp. During her five years there, Coleman says there was a real focus on the firm's people, culture and values, with the firm being recognised internationally for its diversity initiatives and winning legal industry Employer of Choice awards. Most recently, Coleman has been Director of People and Capability at the Financial Markets Authority, the financial services regulator.
Coleman says what attracted her to Warren and Mahoney was that it is “a leading brand in New Zealand in terms of design. Further, they are ambitious in their outlook and in their growth plans for New Zealand and Australia.”
She observes that what is critical to Warren and Mahoney being able to achieve their goals is having top quality people and she looks forward to helping the organisation develop strategies to attract, develop and retain the best architects and designers. “With a quality brand like Warren and Mahoney, we are able to get very talented people in the door. But we need to ensure we continue to invest in our people and that we have a positive, high performing culture so that our people are highly engaged and have opportunities to develop and thrive.”
Coleman views that as critically important, both for the business and for clients. “Clients don’t want to change architects half way through a major project. Retaining engaged and motivated employees has to be a priority to ensure Warren and Mahoney continues to deliver outstanding work to our clients. Further, if you look after your people, they are the best ambassadors for your organisation.”