Paid to Play Adult Lego
17 September 2021

Graduate James Nodder is making his mark in the building industry. He has landed a dream job as a junior project manager and quantity surveyor, boosting the growth of two start-up construction companies spanning residential and civil sectors. The 29-year-old has already built a substantial office and warehouse facility on Hugo Johnston Drive, Penrose for the Southpark Estate development. Next week he will launch construction of a new Fonterra milk depot in Penrose, which will store 40 per cent of Auckland’s milk at any given time.

James completed our NZ Diploma in Construction (Quantity Surveying), Level 6, in May. He says the skills he learned have proved extremely valuable in his new career. “I can now hand on heart say that I’m being paid on a daily basis to do almost exactly what I studied,” he says. “I’ve used some of my assessments as templates for my work. My boss has been very happy with it so what you guys taught me is really transferable.”

Before applying for quantity surveying roles, he donned a hard hat and toiled as a hammerhand for four months to gain some practical industry experience. James built everything from foundations of new homes to civil roading projects including Auckland’s City Rail Link. “I’ve definitely done some hard, getting your hands dirty work but am getting started into building things that are a little bit more interesting than your average three-bedroom home,” he says. “I know that there were 7453 blocks that had to go into the foundation of one building. For some reason it makes my brain itch in a good way. It’s so much more interesting than the random study of statistics for mortgages…”

James earlier worked as a sales consultant, financial advisor and business development manager. The latter role saw him driving growth across rentals of newly opened apartments in Auckland’s Wynyard Quarter for a real estate firm. It was then that a chance encounter led to his new career. James met the architects for property developer Willis Bond Ltd during a party celebrating completion of their new buildings at Wynyard Quarter. “I instantly recognised that their entire existence was ten times more rewarding than mine. Whereas my life was trying to befriend people so they’d buy something off me, they were designing then constructing a building, and playing adult Lego, which was really rewarding.”

James says he was drawn to Future Skills Academy by the short holiday breaks which allowed him to finish within only two years. “The biggest take away is within two and a half years, I’ve been able to completely change industry role, have a qualification, an outlook, possibilities. I'm very happy to say that Future Skills will likely be the catalyst for something that will be a complete change in my life and circumstances. I’m looking forward to sometime in my career being able to say,’ I built x and y airport; I built x and y skyscaper.’”

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