“To live is to choose. But to choose well, you must know who you are and what you stand for, where you want to go and why you want to get there.”
How It All Started
Most company stories go something like this: I started XYZ because I saw a gap in XYZ.
The truth is that the story of every company on this planet starts with the story of its founder, or founders.
The company always takes on the founder’s personality and values, but whether the founder can share these values with other team members, to then create a positive area of influence in the market, ultimately decides if the company will succeed or fail.
I can only tell you the story of ConsultANZ if I tell you a bit about myself and the decisions that led me to create a specialist recruitment consultancy for the civil engineering and construction industries.
Peter Laver, Director
The Early Years
It was a typical hot day in the Queensland outback when my father John died in an accident. Born into farming, he went off in the tractor to plough a field and never came back. He was 33 years old at the time and left behind his wife Shirley and three sons under the age of five. The year was 1976, and at one-year-old, I was the youngest of them.
While I don’t have a recollection of the day that changed the fate of my family forever, I do remember the years that came after my father’s accidental death. After trying to run the farm with help, Mum sold it and got a job in town, while my brothers and I attended full-time school and care.
Growing up fatherless was not easy on us. We lived with a constant fear of uncertainty, not knowing what the next day would bring, and while Mum tried her hardest, without two parents guiding us, all three of us boys landed ourselves in hot water more than once along the way.
Despite all the difficulties, Mum was adamant about bringing us up to be decent human beings and offering us the same opportunities that children from two-parent families had. She worked hard, and in many ways, as a single mother with the things she achieved, was a pioneer of the time and still is one of the bravest and determined people I have ever known.
While my Mum is no longer with us, I believe she has taught me some invaluable lessons that have become foundations of not only how I live, but also how I run ConsultANZ. First and foremost, she taught me how to value and respect other people and never take them for granted. She taught me to be open-minded and give others a fair go no matter their circumstances or their background. And finally, she taught me to enjoy and live life to the fullest and never be afraid to take risks.
1993 – 1999 – The Surveying Years
I was always a Maths/Science kid – I loved numbers and still do; I find a sense of calm in them. I also loved the outdoors (and still do), so Surveying was the right combination of both.
Like many my age, when growing up I dreamt of adventure in far-flung places, and surveying helped me to make some of these dreams come true. During my university breaks I worked in Central Queensland coal mines with BHP Coal, and straight after graduation, I got a job on the edge of the Great Sandy Desert in Western Australia with BHP Iron Ore at Mt Whaleback.
Through survey control projects for further exploration, I went to places where not many, if any, men had set foot before me, and in my free time, I travelled extensively around the Pilbara region. I loved exploring.
1999 – 2005 – Moving To The UK And Working In The Civil Engineering Industry
In January 1999 I decided it was time for more adventure and after several friends pulled out of the planned overseas trip, I knew it was now or never. I packed my backpack and left on my own for London as a fresh-faced kid who had just turned 23.
I started work on about £5 per hour as an engineering assistant on a road reconstruction project in Huntingdon for Lafarge/Redlands. After about four weeks the engineer I was supporting got sacked, and I got promoted. I would be, what I would term these days, “very green”. But my hard work, keenness, enthusiasm and reliability made up for it, and my management team (on this project and probably the next two) overlooked my lack of experience until I found my feet.
The UK system had young civil engineers “setting out” as part of their engineering development. I was a degree qualified Surveyor who was educated and trained to “set out.” So, it was to my benefit that I was lumped in with the other young civil engineers and went on developing within the engineering stream. Over the course of the next six years, I was involved in many roading and airport projects across the UK. Together with a close group of friends I became hooked on Lane Rentals. High octane road reconstruction projects that ran 24/7 anywhere from 4 – 26 weeks for total duration. They were high pressure, intense working environments and very lucrative in a money sense. I ended up doing eight of them and learnt a lot!
Although work took up most of my time, I made sure I still did what I came to the UK for in the first place – travel. I used London as a base for going to other fantastic places around the globe. I spent a year in the Canadian Rocky Mountains fly fishing, mountain biking, hiking and snowboarding.
I ran the bulls twice in Pamplona, Spain. I attended the Munich Oktoberfest four times, and that’s where I met my lovely wife, Anna. I went on safari in South Africa and did some scuba diving and game fishing up the coast of Mozambique. I travelled extensively through most of Europe soaking up history and culture. But for 13 years the UK was my home away from home.
2005 – 2011 – Transitioning Into Recruitment
Working big hours on intense projects became the catalyst for moving into recruitment.
I was 28 and burnt out with an average of 75-hour + working week when on Projects. I was tired and because of that probably a bit jaded with the industry. That was when I was approached to recruit. My first thoughts on recruitment were: an office job with a 38-hour working week, hardly any stress and comfortable existence. How wrong I was!
My first year – I hated it. The job was stressful, and I got all the “used car salesmen” jibes from my engineering mates I’d left behind on site. It was a new environment, and I was at the bottom again. But I gave my word that I would give it two years.
At the end of that first year, three important things happened that made we want to continue with recruitment. First, my competitive nature kicked in when I lost against our main competitor in supplying engineers to the Ascot Racecourse redevelopment with Laing O’Rourke. It was a hard lesson, and I promised myself it wouldn’t happen again. Second, I realised that the job was about interacting and connecting with lots of people and developing strong relationships which suited my personality. Third, I was making many lifelong friendships with people I have placed or clients I had helped. To my surprise, and that of my friends on site, I started enjoying the job!
As luck would have it, I stumbled into the perfect job for me. As a very sociable person, coming from the industry itself, who thrives on competition and has a genuine interest in other people, recruitment has proven to be the perfect career choice for me.
2011 – Moving Back To Australia And Starting ConsultANZ
While I truly enjoyed living in the UK, the moment my first child was born I decided it was time to head home. Australia is such a fantastic place that had given me so many opportunities growing up; I wanted my young family to experience it firsthand.
When I arrived back in Brisbane, there was no Plan B. I had no doubts what I wanted to do for a living. I did not know if there was a gap in the market for another recruitment business, but I knew I could offer potential clients and candidates a reliable and specialised service.
Despite all the challenges that came with starting ConsultANZ, it became a continuation of what I do best and what I enjoy – helping people within the civil engineering and construction industry make the right career move and the correct hiring decision.
At the risk of sounding all new age, starting and running a business has put me on a personal journey, allowing me to understand what really matters to me and bringing me closer to my goal of creating stability for my own family – something I lacked growing up.
2012 – 2018 – ConsultANZ at present
ConsultANZ is growing, and by saying that I don’t just mean that we have more work, that we have new clients and candidates who have decided to put their trust in us, that our team is expanding or that we have moved into a trendy office.
The company has grown beyond me. The story is no longer just mine to tell because the value within ConsultANZ lies now with its people: our staff, our candidates and our clients. In the last 18 months, we have become very clear about our strengths, our unique position within the recruitment industry, about what motivates us and where we want to be in the next five to ten years. While each of us has their own story and comes from a different background, we are a team of like-minded people, who work hard, are trustworthy and open-minded.
Many people believe that the only reason why we humans work is to earn money. But if you question yourself, you will understand that work is a stepping stone to fulfilling your dreams and desires and that it goes way beyond meeting your basic needs. Once you realise this, once you know who you are, what you stand for, where you want to go and why you want to get there, you will be able to take a better charge of your career or your business and make a plan.