Managing Partner at architectural firm Measure & Draw, Chris Grimshaw has helped grow the business by putting customer centricity and process driven operational excellence at the heart of all they do.
Based in Auckland, Measure & Draw provides design, technical draughting and resource and building consent design to residential and commercial clients across New Zealand’s biggest city. When Chris joined the company in 2014 they had just one designer contracting to them. Today, they have a well-structured employee base – with 12 full time staff on the architectural side and another two in their engineering arm. Chris says the skills he acquired at Unitec played a big part in helping him drive this growth.
“When I joined Measure & Draw, my goal was to add some scale to the business. I studied a Bachelor of Business (Operations Management) at Unitec, and I believe it armed me with key tools that have been critical in building the company up to where it is today. For starters, I learnt the importance of being agile in business – how to make the right moves at the right time. I also learnt about evidence based, statistical decision making, as well as how to understand people – both of which are essential in a service industry like this.”
Chris initially started his studies at Otago University, but transferred back to Auckland to be closer to family. He says he was drawn to Unitec for a number of reasons.
“My mum studied a Bachelor of Social Practice at Unitec 20 years ago, so I thought it would be neat to study at the same place she did. I was also attracted by Unitec’s approach to learning and focus on real world experience. Their Industry Based Learning (IBL) programme was a huge drawcard; I wanted the chance to add value to a real organisation by implementing the theoretical understanding I’d gained in my studies.”
Chris started at Unitec in 2008 and says he immediately loved the diversity of the campus; the learning and interaction spaces. He also says the faculty made a huge impression on him.
“Unitec’s lecturers, tutors and department heads are excellent – the level of engagement you get from them is really high and they’re always approachable. I found it very different from my experience at University, where classes were made up of over 200 people in a lecture hall. The smaller, classroom-style learning at Unitec suited me.”
Real life work experience
For Chris, the IBL programme saw him take a placement at global logistics company Linfox, working at their main warehouse.
“I investigated their processes in relation to everything from health & safety and inventory management to warehouse layout and design. It was a real investigative journey – I spent over 300 hours on it. That was the great thing about Unitec – it gave me crucial real-life work experience that is still helpful in my career today.”
After Unitec, Chris took a full-time logistics management role at a subcontractor to Holden NZ. He spent a year there before deciding to give small business a shot and joining Measure & Draw. In his role as Managing Partner, he brings together customer focus and process-driven operational excellence to deliver results.
“I’m very customer-centric, so for me, it’s all about meeting and exceeding customer expectations – that’s what I’m passionate about. I’m also very process-driven. I love showing that through operational excellence you can meet the many needs of your customer base. I firmly believe that by striving to improve customer service and processes you can really drive a business forward.”
Giving back to Unitec
Chris says his years at Unitec helped him build strong networks and connections with people in the industry, something that was crucial in building his career. Today, he’s giving back some of his own time – volunteering on an advisory panel to assist Unitec in developing their Masters’ programme in Business.
“Unitec brings people from the business world in to collaborate with their management team and give feedback on what the industry is looking for in a graduate. Their aim is to continually refresh the programme so it aligns with and delivers on what today’s businesses require.”
For students or graduates wanting to get into any area of the business world, Chris’s advice is to get some practical experience while you’re still studying.
“Even if it means volunteering your time, that experience is crucial if you want to get a foot in the door. From my perspective as an employer, when I’m hiring new staff I always look at what they’ve done outside of their learning, how proactive they’ve been. My other piece of advice is to be persistent – don’t let one bad interview daunt you! There’s a role out there for everyone – you just need to find the one that’s the right fit for you."