After graduating from Otago University in 2018, Nicki joined the workforce before landing a role as Surveyor with McKenzie & Co. in 2021. Nicki has recently become a Licensed Cadastral Surveyor so we sat down with her to find out a bit more about her career journey.
Why did you decide to pursue Surveying as a career?
At high school I was passionate about the outdoors and was heavily involved in Tauranga Youth Search and Rescue where I developed skills in and a love for orienteering, tramping, problem solving, and interpreting maps. Because of my love for the outdoors, my Dad (who at the time project managed the construction of Geothermal Power Stations in Taupo) introduced me to Surveying as a career possibility.
I carried out two days of fieldwork with experienced surveyors in Taupo – the first day was at a power station where we setout steam pipelines, and the second day was in a boat measuring the sediment build-up in rivers in National Park. I really enjoyed the travel, outdoors, use of technology and technical components of the job which reflected my orienteering and mapping skills. I ultimately decided to study a Bachelor of Surveying at the University of the Otago because of the above.
Why did you choose to work for McKenzie & Co. and why do you enjoy working here?
Put simply, the people, the diversity of work, and career growth opportunities. The team are really supportive, fun to work with, very experienced and hard working. I like that McKenzie & Co. provide a range of land professional services (Planning, Civil Engineering Design, Construction Management, Cadastral Surveying and Spatial Measurement) to a diverse client base including the residential and rural sectors.
The combination of team support, diversity of work and scale of projects enabled me to further my career by becoming a Licensed Cadastral Surveyor and full member of Survey and Spatial New Zealand.
What does your typical working day look like?
No two working days are the same. I have a great mix of field and office work, where jobs involve drone surveys, civil construction setout, topographic surveys, developing concepts for subdivisions and determining boundary locations.
What skills have you found vital to your job?
Having an infinity for land, the outdoors and maps in addition to written communication skills, mathematics, having an aptitude for problem solving, strong spatial literacy, and the ability to assimilate legal problems.
What is your most favourite part of the job?
Working outdoors and with a range of land professionals; applying artistic flare to cartographic problems; the opportunity to travel to a variety of different sites; and the mathematical and mapping challenges presented through cadastral and civil problems.
What are your long-term career goals?
To be in a mentorship role and involved in the governance of a business.
What should Surveying students be doing to improve their career prospects?
They should obtain practical experience during the University holidays so they can apply the theory learnt in the classroom to real world problems. They could also be open minded to furthering their University programme, for example undertaking a Bachelor of Surveying with Honours.
In my last year at University, I completed an Honours dissertation which has been a career highlight. It involved flying in a helicopter to the Percy Burns viaduct in a remote location of Fiordland, laser scanning a deforming structure and assessing its movement to assist with work for reopening the viaduct to the public for tramping the Hump Ridge Track. The process ultimately helped further develop my written communication skills, provide for new job opportunities and salary levels, and develop an area of expertise.
A career highlight?
A recent career highlight would be becoming a Licensed Cadastral Surveyor. This is the final step after a four year degree, years of applying that knowledge in the workplace, preparing a portfolio of projects for examination, passing a NZ cadastral law exam, and finally the professional interviews/exams.
This process helped me become a well-rounded surveying consultant, and will enable me to mentor others in the workplace and take full responsibility for the surveys I complete.