Realising your potential is key to success

Consistency and quality top priorities for engineering industry leader Sir Ron Carter.

Sir Ron Carter was knighted for his services to engineering in 1998.
Sir Ron Carter was knighted for his services to engineering in 1998.

As a leader, what's the secret to getting people to support and share your vision?

Being 'hands-on' and prepared to be involved in the work. Being consistent in standards and emphasising that the quality of the work is the number one priority.

What was an important lesson you learned on your way up?

Learn who you can trust and then rely on them.

Tell us about someone who has inspired or been a mentor to you?

George Beca, my business partner and great friend, a very sound and able man with the highest of values.

How would your colleagues describe you?

I have been told I am humble but I think this reflects that I allow people to make decisions, and pursue them, rather than seek to impose my seniority on their actions. I don't seek glory from the work of others and I see this as a successful strategy in building up a widely experienced and individually respected group, which can satisfy many clients at the same time.

What has been a highlight of your career?

Being chosen as a Commissioner for the Royal Commission on the Canterbury Earthquakes.

What do you think will be a significant business or societal issue in the next decade?

One issue, but only one of many, is the balance between developing an information base for society and the intrusion into the privacy of individuals. Deciding when society's 'need to know' oversteps the boundary of privacy.

What is your favourite way to relax?

It has changed as I have got older. In my 20s it was playing rugby and since then as a regular spectator. For five years I was also on the board of Rugby NZ 2011 and the Rugby World Cup was a great pleasure.

Who is a leader that you admire?

Sir John Graham, who is a great influence on many, as a role model for students, sportspeople and academics, as well as for his university leadership and civic duties. Another is Sir Murray Halberg, for leading society to recognise the ability of disabled people and support and encourage them to get involved in community activities.

What is a big dream that you have?

To break down some of the silo mentality that has grown in New Zealand. We don't do enough to find the common ground that often exists in different activities and occupations. There are some things I believe I could do to contribute to this.

And your dream for New Zealand's future?

For New Zealanders to appreciate the good fortune we have to live in this country and to work in a more collective way to improve the standards of health, wealth and happiness that we enjoy.

How would you like to be remembered?

As someone who could be trusted, someone who wanted to help others and, in business, promoted the success of others.

What is the best part about being involved with the Sir Peter Blake Trust?

I have been greatly encouraged by the number of leaders that exist in every facet of our society. The Sir Peter Blake Trust has identified many and given them leadership recognition. In a number of instances this has contributed to their further success as a leader in their field.

Tell us something about yourself that might surprise people?

In all my days at school, although I was in a high-achieving class, I did not cross the platform once in my five years at Auckland Grammar to receive a class or a subject prize. I have told this anecdote because success is more about realising your potential, which can result from steady achievement, learning and support from others.

If you could give your 15-year-old self some wise advice, what would it be?

Strive for life balance, extend your education and experience to the limit of your ability. Decide what you are good at and then set out to become better and better at it. When you are good at something, and enjoy life, success is straight ahead. Proceed with confidence.

Sir Ron Carter

Sir Ron Carter joined Gray Watts and Beca in 1959 and in 1965 became a partner. In 1986, Sir Ron became managing director and subsequently chairman of the Beca group until 2000. In 1997, he became a Distinguished Fellow of IPENZ and was knighted for his services to engineering the following year. In 2001, Sir Ron received an Honorary Doctorate of Engineering from the University of Auckland and was honoured as the Facility of Engineering's distinguished alumni for 2008. Sir Ron is the past chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority and has served on numerous boards including Air New Zealand, Trust Power Ltd, the Electricity Corporation of New Zealand and Aetna. He is currently a Commissioner for the Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission. Sir Ron was a founding trustee of the Sir Peter Blake Trust and sat on the board until 2011, acting as deputy chair for several years, and is now chair of the selection panel for the Sir Peter Blake Leadership Awards.

- NZ Herald

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