Broadspectrum’s leaders: Wendy Edwards

This is an occasional series about Broadspectrum’s leaders. By sharing their stories, it’s an opportunity to celebrate our people, their successes and their diversity. In the words of inaugural interviewee, Karen O’Driscoll, “Our leaders have real lives too, and have learned through challenges, successes and mistakes that they can share with a wider audience.”

“Sometimes you need to move sideways to move ahead,” said Wendy Edwards. She’s speaking of her own career and moving from IT to a senior operational management role.

Today, she is General Manager Water and Construction NZ for Urban Infrastructure, and General Manager NZ for Defence and Social Infrastructure, joining Broadspectrum in June after almost 15 years and three different roles with Transpower NZ.

“With my previous employer, I progressed through the IT ranks, but I kept missing out on more senior roles. And I realised, I needed more business experience. I moved laterally, to lead the risk and audit function at TransPower, which gave me exposure across the company, and all its activities, including governance.

“A sideways move gives you the skills you need and it also demonstrates you aren’t afraid to do something different. My next role was leading an electrical engineering team; the type of senior role I wanted.”

Wendy leads Broadspectrum’s water and construction business in New Zealand, and also provides the NZ leadership for the expanding defence and social infrastructure business. The water and construction team of 100 delivers operations and maintenance services for three waters – drinking, waste and storm – for two district councils and project delivery for three councils, including two significant construction projects.

“I support my team to deliver to the best of their abilities which enables us to deliver high quality services to the communities where we work. My role is to develop and maintain strong relationships with existing and potential clients, looking for opportunities for us to work with them to deliver water services. This applies whether in water, construction, defence of social infrastructure,” she said.

“Recent water projects include the construction and commissioning of a new water treatment plant for the communities of Omanaia and Rawene. We are also mid-construction on a new water treatment plant at Whau Valley for the community of Whangarei, and a waste water treatment plant for the community at Kerikeri.”

Wendy said her biggest challenge is strengthening the brand, and demonstrating the water team’s capability outside of Northland, where this business is strongest.

Her advice to others looking to make a similar move is everything is a learning opportunity. “I agreed to deliver projects, run workshops and develop new services, even when I had no idea of the scope or the delivery. Nothing ventured, nothing gained,” she said.

Since joining Broadspectrum, Wendy has been impressed with the effort, thought and commitment to developing talent.

“Companies like ours need to continually evolve our business and our services. Diversity of thought is a key enabler, because if we keep doing things the way they’ve always been done, we will get left behind.

“Those in our company who challenge our thinking are key contributors to the ongoing success of Broadspectrum,” she said.

Outside of work, Wendy plays hockey and is also involved in the management and governance of sport. She is also learning Te Reo, and hopes one day her pronunciation will match her aspiration.