After a career change, a battle with depression and discovering a passion for the environment, David Sweeney has found himself in the “perfect” place on this good earth. Good Earth Matters is a leading Australasian expert in enabling communities through sustainable infrastructure.

At the very core of Good Earth Matters is the unwavering desire to improve communities by designing and implementing infrastructure that supports sustainable growth within environment and ecosystem capacities. One of their valued staff members works out of the Soda Inc. coworking space.

David’s role within the company as a technical writer, technical adviser and analyst is all done remotely in Hamilton while the majority of the team is based in Palmerston North. Managing Director Annette Sweeney said from the company point of view, it was important they had really good office spaces for their staff and for David, Soda was “perfect”.

“David brings a real take on understanding the analysis of the work we're doing. In terms of providing advice and technical writing, he’s got a fantastic analytical base which allows us to get on and do our work with the councils.

“As a company, we have a strong belief in hiring graduates to provide career pathways and David brings quite a good perspective in terms of helping graduates figure out how they think about ideas and how they approach different projects.”

Annette said as a consultancy they were focused on water resources infrastructure.

“We do a range of strategic advice, consenting, and some design investigations for water, wastewater and storm water - mainly for rural and provincial communities.

“We are also looking at what the impacts of infrastructure are on the environment, and how we make sure the infrastructure is being managed and operated appropriately, ensuring that it's serving the community, particularly with some of the funding constraints a lot of the small communities are under.”

She said most of their clients tend to be district councils, because water infrastructure is provided by Councils, but they also work for a range of private clients.

David said his job is pretty simple as he does the work that's put his way.  So far, that’s meant learning a new sector from his engineering base and developing skills and expertise around areas such as water use assessment.

“I'm from a technical engineering background, so I can bring an alternative approach to looking at the technical analysis the other staff members aren’t able to.”

David said when he took the job he was looking for a career change.

“I was in a position of looking for something different to do and Good Earth Matters was looking for some additional technical resource.”

David had been in the product development plastics engineering industry for 20 years.

“My first career position outside of university was not in product development. But then once I got into product development, I was working with Gallagher Group.

“Then I went to a company in animal health delivery system development. So, a company that makes veterinary equipment, injectors and some drenching equipment for the veterinary industry. That was Hamilton based too.”

But then David went through a hard time with mental health and depression.

“I ended up sort of wondering where I was going to go and what sort of thing I wanted to do.

“So, I decided to step aside from there.  At a time, my in-laws were needing some help in a farming situation. So, I went to work with my father and mother-in-law for around 10 months.”

After those 10-months things started coming to a standstill for David, and he was ready for a change.

“At the time, Good Earth Matters was looking for some additional technical resource and two and two sort of fit together and I started working there.”

David completed a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering in the early 90s at Auckland University.

“I'd never heard of the whole coworking side of things and when I started working for Good Earth Matters they were keen to employ me, but I was keen to stay here in Hamilton.

“I felt that it wouldn't have been good for me to be working from home. I'd be totally distracted, and I wasn’t keen to be isolated.

“I was googling working spaces in Hamilton and found this whole concept of coworking and we identified several coworking office space providers in Hamilton. We thought Soda was head and shoulders above everyone else.

“It fitted really well. Being in town, central location, and the opportunity for Annette to work here when she came to Hamilton.

“The amenities here are really good. And it just feels comfortable,” David said.