THE PENZL TEAM: Introducing Pete, Managing Director

First up we have a bit of background about Pete, Managing Director and the formation of PENZL.

Most of you will know that PENZL was formed in 2006 in a merger between ADP Architects and Pete who had recently parted ways after 18 years as a founding Director of Architects Patterson.

The office has been lucky enough to have John Peachey from The Think Farm* come in and give presentations to us, the most recent being “Inspire in order to thrive” – taking time out of our ‘busyness’ to be inspired, see life and work from a different perspective.

During this presentation, Pete was asked why PENZL was established – why he wanted to set up his own company, and his answer was simply “to make a difference and enjoy what I do”. There’s more to that answer and he took some time to put that into words:

It’s all about what we do. The I is now a team and has been for a long time. And being able to translate that onto a team is the realisation that we are all part of a greater entity where the old saying goes “that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts”. If what we hear is correct from you all, then we prove it!!

There is a holistic and positive interdependency when we get the essence right.

I remember leaving school and just wanting to work, being responsible for myself and ‘charting my destiny’ having chosen the Architectural career. I worked as an Architectural Draughtsman for 5 years before choosing the Architectural Degree at Auckland Uni.

With my first business in 1988, I found a sense of fulfilment in taking a risk (just after the Share Market Crash of 1987, the arrival of a brand new baby -Sarah!!) and being responsible for the business -this was after graduating and getting Registered immediately, then gradually building up a team designing some enjoyable projects. For the 18 years Andrew Patterson and I were in business, it was successful at one level yet I felt there were other (better) ways of running a business that focussed more about people. I saw many businesses limiting their team from taking responsibility for their decisions, by being ‘controlling’, creating unnecessary rules and policies, thereby limiting self-expression and authenticity. The outcome was general dissatisfaction leading to higher staff turn-over….

The idea in starting PENZL with George, John and Phil (and now with Clive and Grant), is not only the architecture but equally about being people-focussed -being inspired and thriving -allowing/enabling everyone to be responsible for what they do (at whatever level they’re at) while being fully supported. At the same time respecting and enjoying the inevitable differences allows us to work cohesively. This flows into everything we do -design expression, processes, supporting each other, accepting and learning from mistakes -and finding that place without fear where we are genuinely fulfilled. This is where creativity thrives -and I would suggest all the qualities we define as positive thrive.

These ‘fluffy-bits’ are the fundamentals which the Directors have found support a thriving business, hopefully where there is a greater sense of belonging and positive energy into moving forward together -and having fun. This allows for change, growth where needed -or desired, trust in the team (top down and bottom up) and an environment of listening, action, inspiration and creative energies. The building industry is full of surprises and uncertainties so our course allows us to chart a direction knowing that the only constant is change.

And when everything aligns, the business does well! And this has been shown very clearly over the last 3-4 years. This is balanced with planning, managing the decisions, reviewing performance and mentoring our team. Yes, the growth has meant lots of learnings in this uncharted territory; it has meant change, but a positive change where the very fundamentals are our stability.

The best intentions are always there, ensuring the team is looked after as best we can. We don’t want just the words, but seeing them in action. And looking back, the decisions made give us comfort that the forward decisions should also give us comfort when undertaken with the greatest respect.

I enjoy coming into our workspace where as a cohesive team of many talents we are inundated with quality work and clients wanting our services, receiving positive feedback from within the team and the desire to retain the inherent culture where we all thrive.

If we have got the above right, with our awesome team everything else is relatively easy.

It’s interesting, that in reading various business articles and analysis, we would be defined as a ‘Values-based’ business where culture is a priority and we’re in good company if the analysts are anything to go by. (Google, Netflix, Walt Disney….).

However, it’s not what others are doing, but what we do for us while acknowledging the learnings of others.

* John of The Think Farm is a motivational speaker, presenter, radio announcer, educator, mentor, leadership coach… "John Peachey is a brilliant communicator who shares a deep understanding of powerful narratives and leadership principles. John shows how the inner power of a story can resonate with the human spirit. His seminar sessions will take you on a journey of profound significance that help to illuminate sparks of inspiration. I can highly recommend John for any business conference or organisational empowerment session. Your team will be positively impacted by his leadership insights.”

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Sustainability, lifestyle and the creation of enduring investment value is core to our design philosophy.

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