British-born Rob Gaimster served as the president of the UK Institute of Concrete Technology before he moved to New Zealand with his wife and two sons in 2006. He worked for the NZ Cement and Concrete Association for 11 and a half years – the first two as a project manager, then as CEO. He was also a director of the Building & Construction Industry Training Organisation for nearly 12 years. In August 2017, he became CEO of Concrete NZ, which aims to position concrete as the "construction material of choice for a modern and resilient NZ". Gaimster is a chartered engineer with a bachelor's degree in civil engineering and a master's in business administration.
I grew up in Yorkshire. Yorkshire is beautiful and the scenery is lovely. You've got the old towns like York and Yorkminster, and you've got the Yorkshire Dales. Yorkshire people are known for their plain speaking. I always remember my father saying, "Always be honest, and don't show off". He died last year, but I can hear him saying that even now.
When I was younger, I always wanted to join the air force. But I knew I couldn't because I'm colourblind.
Until I was five, I was a little bit shy, but that changed when I got to school, which I quite enjoyed – particularly primary school.
After I left school, I studied at Portsmouth University, which was one of the top places in the UK to do a civil engineering degree. Back in the day, that was a four-year course.
Once I graduated, I started working in construction on big sites and then became a management intern for the biggest concrete company in the world, Cemex.
I really like sports and follow a football team called Sheffield Wednesday – you won't have heard of them. They're called the yo-yo side because they get promoted one year and relegated the next. We sat at the bottom of the table this year. Thankfully, I'm quite a resilient character.
I didn't have any preconceived ideas before we moved to NZ. We'd been here on holiday in the mid-2000s, so I knew NZ. I wasn't expecting living here to be spectacular, but I wasn't expecting it to be bad, either, because if you come with a predetermined view of what it's going to be like, you might be disappointed.
NZ has been really good for us – our boys have done really well. That was one of the drivers for coming here, because we just felt NZ was a really good place to bring up kids.
Back in 2017, we merged six organisations to form Concrete New Zealand so we could truly speak with one voice on behalf of the whole industry. You can imagine the complexities around combining six organisations into one. It was pretty challenging. We had a team working on a very circumspect approach and took a good couple of years to get everything lined up before we launched.
We've been going for five years now and we're delivering on the reasons we merged in the first place, like focusing on sustainability, reducing our carbon footprint, that kind of thing.
Someone once told me that you’ve got to value your team and you've got to value your customers. I think if you can do that and the customers appreciate that they're valued and your team appreciates that they're valued then you've got the basis of a strong organisation.
I've been doing this job for quite a long time. I still enjoy it and I think I'm making a difference still. There might be another career change at some point in the not-too-distant future if the right role comes up, but it depends on the role.
In sports though? Maybe not. I wasn't bad, but my brother was the one who could have been a professional soccer player.
I do the park run on a Saturday and I'm always the slowest in my age group – always. Someone there once described my running style as "very tenacious". I don't think they were being complimentary at all as I’m very much a plodder.
I have to confess to being a bit of a gadget man. My boys think it's hilarious as I'm really bad at tech. My favourite gadget would be my electric car – it’s pretty cool – and my next gadget on the to-buy list is a pizza oven. I’m calling that a gadget.
How do I handle stress? We have a very enthusiastic dog who requires about two hours of exercise a day. Our dog’s only redeeming feature is that he's quite cute. But apart from that, he's a nightmare. He's probably not quite wired right but we love him nonetheless.
Our dog helps me wind down a bit as well. The stress is not just from the job, it's also the stress of supporting a very unsuccessful football team. My job can be quite stressful, but my wife, Louisa, is a district nurse – she's got a proper job. The medical profession generally, they're out there saving lives, so I think it's a relative thing, really.