When Jamie Moxon left school, he had ideas of becoming an auto electrician. That didn't pan out, but he never imagined he'd end up as senior estimator at D&H Steel Construction a few years later.
He also never dreamed he'd win the inaugural Steel Construction New Zealand Young Achiever of the Year Award in 2019, but says it was very rewarding to receive recognition for what he's achieved.
"When I joined D&H Steel I had no qualifications, just two years of hands-on experience working on the Toroa Steam Ferry. That job sparked my interest in working with structural steel but I didn't join D&H Steel with a specific trade in mind, I just wanted to further my interest in structural steel and see where it could take me.
"I started in the workshop working as fabrication prep, collecting the beams and cleats required for each structural steel assembly and supporting other fabricators. I spent eight months working my way through each department in the workshop to get a better understanding of each process and the role it played, and that helped me discover the type of work I loved doing."
Moxon was then offered the opportunity to move to the main office to join the estimating department.
He spent the first year undergoing training and has undertaken formal training at Unitec to acquire papers specific to estimating.
"I've also focused on improving my knowledge and skills by learning from my senior colleagues and asking questions."
Wayne Carson, D&H Steel's general manager and director, says the combination of Moxon's attitude and aptitude has seen him grow to be a highly valued member of the senior team in just eight years.
"He is an inspiration of what can be achieved by someone with no formal training but with a great attitude and willingness to learn."
Moxon says his role as senior estimator is varied and exciting.
"Most days I'm measuring drawings, preparing estimate summaries and quote letters, helping my colleagues with any questions or problems they have, and providing budgets for client projects that are in the early stages of design."
Highlights have included working on the Auckland International Airport Departure Terminal Redevelopment, the Smales Farm Helical Stairs, The Foodstuffs North Island distribution centre (largest warehouse in the Southern Hemisphere) and most recently, the new Westfield Newmarket shopping centre.
Carson says he has observed an increase in young people choosing to pursue a trades career in recent years, with the industry evolving to become a more recognised profession.
"People have come to realise that there are many successful careers in the trades, which can be attributed to New Zealand's booming construction sector, growth of market share and volume, and increased demand of higher levels of performance and delivery capability."
Companies like D&H Steel have a responsibility to foster young talent to come up through the ranks and grow the future skills of the industry, says Carson.
"We need to lead by example and invest in upskilling younger staff. Setting standards and creating a positive workplace environment that encourages growth is integral for establishing a good attitude and work ethic."
He notes that having access to a mentor is key to supporting young workers in their career and wider areas of life, and can help with the transition to working in the trades sector.
Moxon credits his positive attitude and work ethic to various mentors he had in the early stages of his career.
"It's definitely worthwhile to have a mentor and I highly recommend it. They can support you when you're first starting out by showing you the ropes and teaching important skills through hands-on learning. I've mentored others in my time at D&H Steel and it's fantastic to be able to give back and help others starting in their career.
"In my current role I'm involved in training new quantity surveyors and estimators to use our estimating software, and I'd love to continue my involvement with that as I progress in the company. I enjoy helping them better understand their role, enabling them to look at the bigger picture rather than piece by piece."
Moxon would like to keep advancing his position to a more senior role in management, where his responsibilities would include managing quantity surveyors and estimators.
His advice for young people who can't decide what to do when they leave school, and don't want to study at university, is to "get out there in the workplace and see what fits, and keep trying if it doesn't".
He puts his success down to hard work, and always having a good attitude at work. "I make sure to turn up on time, work as hard as possible and leave everyone happy at the end of the day."
Jobs in steel