Building a formidable career

Marcel Frei

South Island Regional Commercial Manager

From cadet estimator to South Island Regional Commercial Manager and PhD candidate – via Sydney and Zurich – Marcel Frei has built a formidable career in construction. And in New Zealand’s current buoyant construction market, the future looks even brighter.

Marcel cut his teeth as a cadet estimator/quantity surveyor with Fletcher, before spending time on the client side with Westfield (the world’s largest retail property developer and owner), working on the Manukau and Riccarton Mall redevelopments and various other retail developments during preconstruction in Auckland.
The obligatory Kiwi OE followed, with stints in Sydney and Zurich working as a professional quantity surveyor for Davis Langdon (now Aecom) and PBK (a boutique consultancy in Switzerland). Both Sydney and Switzerland brought a range of high profile projects, including The Circle development at Zurich Airport (Switzerland’s largest construction project) and a new headquarters for watch giants Swatch and Omega by renowned Japanese architect Shigeru Ban.

When it was time to move home, Fletcher’s strong heritage and values made it an easy choice, Marcel said,

Fletcher has a reputation for being good to work for, good to deal with and principled in their dealings…


Leaving behind the opportunities of Zurich and Sydney, Marcel was keen to work for a contractor with a pipeline of large projects. Arriving home right in the middle of the Canterbury Rebuild, the scale of construction underway in the Garden City provided sufficient challenge, while the lifestyle opportunities of living in an essentially brand new city were an added benefit, he says. “The city is starting to come back to life. As the development of the last few years has been strategic rather than organic, it’s designed for the needs of Cantabrians now and in the future. It’s actually a better place to live…”

Returning first as a senior estimator, Marcel led the estimating team to win the Regional Science and Innovation Centre at the University of Canterbury, before being quickly promoted to Bid Manager, and now Regional Commercial Manager for the South Island. Career progression is one of the most attractive things about working for Fletcher Marcel said. “Alongside the significant opportunities within Fletcher Construction, there are opportunities to explore with other organisations in the Fletcher Building group. There’s a feeling of being part of something bigger.”

In a large organisation there can be a fear of being treated like a number, but Marcel says that his skills have been recognised and valued, and leaders have provided him with opportunities to grow and develop.

There’s definitely room for, and recognition of, good ideas. Our leadership at the regional and national level are interested in new initiatives and ideas that improve the way we work. There is certainly the potential to make a difference.

Never content to sit still for long, Marcel is close to completing a PhD in Construction Management, knowledge which he will apply in his new role. Fletcher’s investment in training and developing its people is another reason for joining the company he says, citing initiatives like the Fletcher Building employee education fund, apprenticeships and cadetships as well as support for continual professional development.