He has held top roles across the Asia Pacific region working as a National Water Manager with Downer, serving in the Royal New Zealand Air Force as an engineering officer and, completing a seven-month tour of East Timor during the crisis of 1999, as a UN Peace Keeper.
With a wealth of international experience behind him, it is no wonder Warner Cowin (Ngāti Porou) now owns one of Australasia’s leading technical tender and procurement agency.
He’s worked in construction in Europe, managed the maintenance and operations of aircrafts and run projects in rail and electrical infrastructure. He has also taken on the corporate world as a Senior Business Development Manager, looking after multi-million-dollar projects.
“I worked out very quickly that no one can control your destiny more than yourself,” shares the CEO and founder of Height. “What started off as a construction project management company, has become a niche agency helping clients win contracts with our unique approach. Today we work with construction, infrastructure and defence clients supporting them to build quality services that will benefit our communities.”
Warner started Height in 2013 after recognising the need to support procurement and tendering within the infrastructure sector. The business is driven by strong values and, their customers are at their core.
With a world-class net promoter score of 63, Height places huge emphasis on client relationships, helping them get the best out of their businesses by refining their value and strategy so they sell, buy and plan, better.
“Giving clients an amazing experience is what drives our thinking,” says Warner. “This can be a complex industry, but we have helped organisations win in excess of four billion dollars of work. We also support clients as well and have helped government agencies in their procurements, now in the vicinity of a billion dollars.”
And the success is evident.
In five and a half years, Height has grown from a single self-employed consultant (Warner working from a school desk in his garage at home), to a team of 15 full and part-time staff supporting projects that span New Zealand. And, with almost 40 percent of their work now also coming out of Australia, the company is on the cusp of opening an office across the Tasman.
While business growth is great, Warner points out that success isn’t all about revenue.
Height takes pride in being a creative and innovative agency employing a diverse group of staff. With a team made up of engineers, communications, marketing and design specialists and, those with experience in the legal and commerce industries, Height brings a wide range of different skills and perspectives to their work.
By providing a level of flexibility within the workplace, the company is also able to support working parents and run a graduate programme for interns.
“Our structure means we have this awesome pool of massively talented people who work for us,” he adds. “We have a mixture of engineers and non-engineers because, for us, it’s about diverse views that aid in achieving the social outcomes. If you understand the social outcome, engineering is really easy.”
These social outcomes not only influence the work – the father of three pointing out that essential infrastructure is all about providing better services for community – but also social outcomes for the industry as a whole.
“We are raising the debate about how we engage more Māori and Pasifika businesses, more women-owned businesses, engaging local suppliers in rural areas and ensuring sustainability in the industry,” he adds. “By challenging and questioning, we are working hard to grow and develop this space we care about.”
And for Warner, supporting the development of others isn’t just company policy.
On top of facilitating workshops, with a focus in business improvement and bid management, he also volunteers his time to mentor small Māori business, supports veterans into resettlement training and helps early stage entrepreneurs to scale their business.
“Ultimately, our kaupapa is about people,” he says. “Our vision around what we do will always come back to how we can achieve the best outcomes for all.”