Continuing our team member profile series, today we’re shining the spotlight on our wonderful engineering team. Jamal Rautao is one of our long-standing Civil Engineers and is integral in designing road and civil servicing solutions on a variety of often challenging, development sites. We pulled Jamal away from his duties and 14th cup of coffee to get an insight into his professional background and day-to-day role.

What is your role at Cuttriss?

At Cuttriss I work within the Engineering team. We plan, design and observe the construction of development projects across the Wellington region. This includes the establishment of infrastructure such as roads, water supply, stormwater drainage and wastewater disposal services. We also work closely with the wider team, taking a development from concept through to construction and certification. 

Are you working on any interesting projects at the moment?

I have been working on a few exciting projects lately: a multi-unit development in Paraparaumu, Stage 2 construction of an 87-lot residential development in Levin, a medium-density housing development in Porirua and closing out the construction of an 18-unit development in Otaki.

It’s rewarding to work on a project being developed based on your own design and management, knowing that it will eventually look and feel like any other street you walk or drive down and that in the end, housing will be built, people will move in and it will be another part of a suburb.

Each project has had its challenges along the way, but that is what makes engineering great, and that with every challenge comes a solution. As engineers, we work through these problems with those involved to reach an outcome, which is often a completed development.

What do you enjoy about being an engineer at Cuttriss? 

I really enjoy being given the opportunity to take a job from start to finish and being given a sense of ownership and responsibility. The challenge is set, and expectations are high to deliver a project through to completion. We can look after our clients and their projects, walking them through the highs and lows of development.

Cuttriss also has a welcoming staff culture, where the team is always willing to help share knowledge and learnings from previous experiences. Each team member brings something different to the table, and it’s an opportunity to collaborate with someone and collectively expand each other’s knowledge of the industry. 

What inspired you to become an engineer? 

I have always had an interest in the construction industry, but I never really knew what aspect of it I wanted to be a part of. Through college I took up courses such as computer science, technology, draughting and worked with my dad on construction sites across the district. I wish I could say I was good with mathematics and sciences, but this is something that came somewhat more naturally to me later in life. 

I was fortunate enough to pick up an engineering cadetship with the local Council after I completed a National Diploma in Architectural Technology (not quite the crossover I expected), but this is where I was really exposed to the varying aspects of Civil Engineering, and just how many positions there are in the industry and the different avenues that can be taken.

Since this first job, I’ve enjoyed every moment creating a career out of civil engineering and taking on bigger and bigger challenges.

Where did you study and what qualifications do you have? 

I took a less conventional path but none the less rewarding, studying part-time through NZIHT (New Zealand Institute of Highway Technology) while working full time in the industry. I achieved an NZ Diploma in Engineering, which is a qualification recognized under the Dublin Accord allowing it to be transferable to work in the UK, Ireland, Canada, South Africa, USA, Australia and Korea. 

There are several other avenues though you could look at when studying that lead towards an engineering qualification, including providers like Weltech or Canterbury University. You just need to find the best fit for you. I would recommend going along to the New Zealand Engineering website for more information:  

What was your career path leading to Cuttriss? 

Through my role at Council and as an engineering cadet, I worked on a handful of projects with Cuttriss. Trying to get more hands-on with projects, I would reach out and offer my help (probably more of a nuisance) if we were collaborating on a job. This let me appreciate the work that was being undertaken to take a concept idea through to construction. By the end of my time with Council, I was looking for a role that allowed me to apply what I had learnt through work experience and the study I had undertaken. A position opened up at Cuttriss, I applied, and have been with them for the last five years. 

Since being with Cuttriss, I have learnt so much about the engineering industry and have met and connected with so many other professionals along the way. This has allowed me to get a glimpse into other types of engineering and the wider development area. 

What does a typical day look like for you? 

Coffee. There is typically some morning administration, emails, phone calls, planning, and the likes. Coffee. Then depending on what projects I have on the go, I could be heading to site to inspect construction works, undertaking site testing or meeting with clients, council, or contractors. Coffee. If I am not out and about, then I will most likely be in the office working on the next development to be constructed, preparing the design, and supporting reports to demonstrate how it complies with the standard practices we follow. Coffee. The joy of the role at Cuttriss is you can plan out most of your day/week with what you want to be doing to complete each of your project deliverables on time. I would say my role is 70/30, office/field. Can you guess what finishes off my day? Coffee!

What are some key strengths/skills needed to become an engineer? 

A good grounding in mathematics and sciences (Physics and Chemistry) will go a long way to beginning to understand engineering. Computer literacy and communication/English will also be of benefit as a lot of the design work is undertaken on 3D modelling software and being able to communicate effectively with clients, Council, contractors, and the wider team is a constant requirement on every project.

What advice do you have for anyone considering working in your industry?  

Go for it! I was always surprised to see the variety of roles people held through undertaking an engineering qualification or the like. There is always a field you will find yourself in depending on your interest and determination to reach your engineering goal. 

Whaia te iti kahurangi – Strive for something of great value! 


At Cuttriss, a career in engineering can be very rewarding. Learn more about careers at Cuttriss or contact us for more informationOur experienced planners have the expertise to successfully navigate council consent processes, to give projects the greatest chance of success.