Profile: John Harper
Engineering offers many opportunities. One of these opportunities is the ability to work flexibly. This case study is one of a series which showcases the diverse people working in engineering and their varied working arrangements.
Who do you work for?
Leap Australasia, a home and hot water heating company.
What tertiary qualifications do you hold?
A Masters in Mechanical Engineering Dist and a Bachelor of Engineering 1st Class Honours
What professional memberships do you hold?
I’m a Professional Member of IPENZ and a Chartered Professional Engineer.
What is your current role and what does it involve?
Product and Quality Manager. My work is divided into two sections – The Present and The Future.
The Present involves managing technical requirements for day-to-day operations. The Future is work towards improvements that make the day-to-day tasks easier.
How many hours do you work in the average working week?
I am contractually employed for 32.5 hours a week but average between 35 and 45.
What is your current employment and personal situation?
After a change in my home life I decided I needed to spend more time with the kids. This necessitated a maximum "in office" day of 9:.30am to 2.30pm. But the nature of my job means I need to field phone calls outside of my office hours. Once the kids are asleep I’d typically do one to two hours of work per night.
My wife works long hours and often brings work home, so we often have coffee/homework dates at night.
Why did you decide on a career in engineering?
I think I’ve always been an engineer – I grew up wanting to know how things work and why. But it was a school visit from a Fisher and Paykel rep in Form Seven that clinched it. They said engineering was "improving the quality of life for others". I knew that’s what I wanted to do.
How has your company supported you to balance your work and other commitments?
Leap has been fantastic. The General Manager is a family man and knows the importance and value of family. There was some give and take to make it work for both parties in the beginning, but they’ve been very supportive.
What does the future hold for you professionally and privately?
Professionally I am right where I want to be. I’m the sole engineer driving quality at a firm whose vision is something I’m 100% passionate about and I’m in a place where I can make a lasting difference.
Privately, I want to be with my kids and be an awesome dad. They can write anything on my tombstone and my carcass won’t bat an eyelid, but if they say I was a bad father then I would have died a failure.
What advice do you have for others who are seeking to work more flexibly or who are managing work and commitments?
If you have kids, give them the foundation they need to be quality adults. Concentrate on your career until you are in a place where you can/want to spend time with your kids.
If your job is stopping you from being the parent you want to be, ditch it. If your boss isn’t prepared to move things around a bit, what other restrictions will you face? There are family-friendly companies out there. Go and find them.
John Lennon’s teacher once asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. He answered "happy". The teacher told him he didn’t understand the question. John Lennon replied that the teacher didn’t understand life.
Any other comments?
Be happy. If being with your kids makes you happy, do it. Don’t make excuses. Excuses are for losers. Winners make things happen.
Thanks to John for taking the time to give us an insight into his life.
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