Older and Wiser: Weng Tan Reflects on Ten Years at White Associates

Weng Tan White Associates

Weng’s love of collaboration means he is always learning something new.

“How many decades do you have in your life? Use it wisely.” 


That’s the advice that Weng Tan would give to himself back in December 2013, when he first landed in New Zealand for his new job at White Associates. He has used this decade well, developing from a Quantity Surveyor in 2013 to a Senior Quantity Surveyor and last year to Associate level in our Post Contract team. 


Weng has seen the Construction market change significantly over the last ten years. “The market has changed from a very manageable workload to a very high demand workload, and I have loved seeing organisations like MATES in Construction created to look after those in these high-pressure environments. Everyone wants a very quick turnaround. Pricing is getting more competitive; you can see this in the shortage of materials during and post-Covid. Materials aren’t an issue anymore, but the next challenge ahead is how to service high levels of construction activity with a small pool of local talent.” 


The demographics of Construction workers have also changed. “There are now a diverse mix of nationalities in the New Zealand Construction industry,” says Weng. “This affects the way that people work and run Construction businesses, as there will be different expectations. For example, different countries move at different speeds and foreign clients may expect shorter timeframes.” 


“I’m also glad to see the number of women in construction increasing. Construction is no longer such a male dominated industry. I have noticed that NAWIC [National Association of Women in Construction] are growing quickly, they now have more activities and are quite active on social media. When I joined White Associates, we only had two or three ladies in our team, and now half our staff are women. That is very impressive.” 


As part of our Post Contract team, Weng has been exposed to many different industries. “Each project has different challenges, uses different construction methodologies, has different project teams and project expectations,” Weng says. 


“There are a few projects I’m especially proud of: The Douglas Pharmaceuticals Innovation Centre, Woolworths’ Palmerston North Distribution Centre, a project in Mount Eden, Ryburn Road Townhouses, and Nugent Street Apartments. The common thread in these projects is that they were collaborative. I’ve learnt that the recipe to project success is a combination of teamwork, effort and knowledge.” 


Director Brett Zeiler works closely with Weng on Post Contract projects and has seen his impact firsthand. “My first job at White Associates was the Mount Eden project. I saw how effortlessly Weng slotted into the project team and how efficiently he ran the project. He has made a great reputation for himself within the industry; our repeat clients often ask for him to be assigned to their projects,” Brett says. 


What Weng enjoys most about working at White Associates is the people. “I love the collaboration and teamwork, everyone helps each other,” says Weng. “I share my workload with the other Post Contract Associates, and the Directors are always available to assist. There’s been times where I’ve lost my direction in a project, and [Directors] Justin and Brett gave me the advice and support I needed to reset and carry on. 


“Most of the time we think that people that are older are wiser. That’s true, but we learn a lot from young people too. The world is continuously evolving, and technology is always improving. When I first arrived at White Associates I brought my own scaler, it’s now sitting at the back of my drawer. Our Juniors are skilled in CostX, they can look for files quicker and navigate our online systems easier. Do not stop learning and treat every day as a new day.”  


The next ten years will bring new adventures for Weng. I would like to enhance my skills and broaden my horizons,” he says. “In order to step out of my comfort zone and explore different things, I have made the hard decision to leave White Associates in the new year. However, that doesn’t mean my relationship with the company will end. I look forward to improving myself in new ways within the Construction industry.” 


White Associates congratulates Weng on his decade of service. “On behalf of all the directors and the whole team, we want to say a massive thank you to Weng for all his hard work,” says Brett. “It’s been a privilege to have worked alongside and learned from him over the last ten years.” 


This article was contributed by Gemma Christall, Weng Tan and Brett Zeiler.