Mechanical engineer moves from UK to New Zealand
British mechanical engineer Hamza Hijazie was considering looking for work in the Middle East when he realised New Zealand could offer him a better quality of life.
"I'm 25 and I didn't want to spend this stage of my life just working and saving," says Hamza.
“I knew how busy I would have been in the Middle East, and I decided I wanted a better work/life balance than that.”
Moving to New Zealand in May 2017 has already paid off for Hamza. He has a great lifestyle in Auckland, the country’s biggest city, as well as an exciting and rewarding engineering career.
Hamza’s also filling his 20s with memorable experiences, from whale-watching to exploring the spectacular wilderness by mountain bike.
“My gut instinct told me that I’d really like New Zealand. I’ve never looked back,” he says.
Big teams and big projects
Hamza is from Coventry in the UK, and has worked primarily in Birmingham, Manchester and London. He started his working life with an air conditioning apprenticeship, retraining as a mechanical engineer during the global financial crisis.
He’d never been to New Zealand before moving here, although he learned a bit about the country while growing up – his family were big fans of the All Blacks rugby team.
Before leaving the UK, Hamza accepted a job at the Auckland office of Beca, an employee-owned engineering and related consultancy service company in the Asia-Pacific.
Hamza is part of a team of 120 engineers at Beca in Auckland, which is easily the biggest team he’s ever worked in.
Moving countries involved adjusting to different ways of working and learning some new skills.
Hamza is gaining some experience and understanding into seismic design of building services systems, which is an important part of construction in earthquake-prone New Zealand.
He has found mechanical consultant engineers in New Zealand are expected to be more hands-on and involved in the detail of projects than engineers back home. Hamza says his background of working primarily site-based while training and through his early years as a mechanical engineer enables him to add value to his current role.
New Zealand’s building boom has attracted a large international workforce, and Hamza has made lots of friends through work.
“Construction sites are tough environments, but in New Zealand people seem pretty easy-going. There’s a good comradery and everyone looks after each other.”
Hamza has had the opportunity to work on some major international projects in Auckland, from the New Zealand International Convention Centre through to a luxury Park Hyatt hotel being built on Auckland’s waterfront.
“It’s going to be a beautiful, top-of the range hotel with quite a few high-tech gizmos. The project team are excited about what they’re building – we all have a sense of ownership in the project,” he says.
As well as enjoying the range of work in New Zealand, Hamza says he’s gaining a more varied range of skills and experience to include on his CV.
Hamza has a skilled migrant visa and is now considering applying for New Zealand residency. He advises other mechanical engineers considering working New Zealand to find a job in advance, which makes the move easier.
“Auckland is expanding and there are new buildings everywhere. Spectacular things are happening here: this will be a different city in 10 years’ time. It’s a great place for an engineer to be.”
After work and at weekends, Hamza tries out mountain bike trails, goes to the beach or travels to other parts of the country. He’s been to Lake Taupo, the Bay of Islands and the Coromandel Peninsula, where his boat “bumped into a whale” – an experience he says he’ll never forget.
“I like getting out to enjoy the natural beauty of the place. New Zealand isn’t the biggest country in the world, but it doesn’t need to be. What it has is a strong sense of community, and most countries don’t have that,” he says.
Hamza already feels committed to living in New Zealand.
“As a mechanical engineer, I have skills and qualifications that can take me all around the world. I’m really happy that they’ve led me here.”