What great timing leaving France just in time to avoid the nice summer days and enjoy six months of NZ winter and then return back to Europe in time for the first rainfall of November. It was to work at Lautrec and livein a wonderful country, besides…..winter in Auckland isn’t that bad.

One of the reasons why is that you actually have no idea in what country you are in Lautrec’s office! The team is a real melting pot which matches well with everyone’s open mind and curiosity. Everyday I learn something new whether it is about Thai food, the Chinese way of life, Russian weather or Kiwis habits. A few days after my arrival I even had the chance to participate in Lautrec’s Planning Day, a special day organised by the Company for team-building and to summarise the past year and define new objectives. We even participated in a powhiri which gave me insight into Maori culture. Lautrec has also been a nice place to follow the Football World Cup with my colleagues and be proud of the French team, “it’s coming home” but not in England. Without forgetting Friday beers and potlucks which have been a very nice time to share experiences and cultures and talk about anything else than HD16 retaining wall reinforcement steel bars.

I have spent six months in the structural engineer team, and it really was a good environment to work in. I was quickly given my own project to work on and was introduced to construction and structural design methods including their codes and standards. I have always felt free to ask any question, and there were always people available to answer it. I have learnt a lot of things that is different from France, especially timber, earthquakes… and I am very appreciated of the time I spent on site during the construction monitoring phase.

Most of my weekends were spent doing road trips around the North Island where I discovered dozens of unique places. Driving along 90 miles beach, crossing the Tongariro Mountain, exploring the Coromandel Peninsula, enjoying Rotorua hot springs will remain fond memories and a good preview of what is waiting for me in the South Island.

Baudouin de Montarnal