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John Holland

  • 1,000 - 50,000 employees

Lachlan Lawler

I think the coolest thing about my current position is the constant realisation of how massive the project is.

What's your job about?

I work for a company called John Holland who is well known in the construction industry and often involved in large scale infrastructure projects. I work as part of the Building Team on a New Corrections Centre up in northern NSW just outside of Grafton. The project is worth $700 million and will house around 1700 inmates when it’s completed in 2020. I’m the main point of contact for the precast subcontractor in regards to any technical aspects so many of my day to day activities revolve around ensuring they have what they need to in order to progress the works.

What's your background?

I grew up in Dubbo, a country town in NSW. I loved growing up there, it was a major hub for regional NSW so there was always plenty to do. I came from a big family, so I always had the opportunity to stay in the city with relatives. It was great having the best of both worlds where I could enjoy the country lifestyle in regional NSW but also experience city living when visiting relatives.

In Year 7, I went to boarding school in Sydney, which developed my independence, communication and leadership skills. During my university degree, I undertook work at TSA Management Pty Ltd in order to instigate my experience in the construction industry. Applying for graduate jobs was long and arduous, but luckily, I was selected to join the Graduate Program at John Holland. Within 4 months of starting work, I’d accepted a rotation to work up in Grafton. This was a big change, leaving everything I knew back in Sydney and moving somewhere even more regional than Dubbo, but I have never regretted my decision. I have lived here for 4 months now, it has been such a brilliant experience getting to know such an awesome team who have all made similar sacrifices to work on a regional project.  

Could someone with a different background do your job?

Yes, I think there are many people out there that could work in construction. My technical background from university has given me a good base for understanding what I’m looking at but more often than not I’m constantly asking questions and researching things I don’t understand. But it’s not about that, it’s about being aware of the gaps in your knowledge and being willing to do the research to find out the best way to tackle it. It’s about knowing what questions to ask. Anyone who is dilligent, works hard and is always up for learning more can make it work.

What's the coolest thing about your job?

I think the coolest thing about my current position is the constant realisation of how massive the project is. You look at such tiny details on plans for so long leading up to the beginning of construction, and then each day when you go for a drive on site to inspect your package of works, it’s a great feeling to see it all coming together and realising it’s all much bigger than you thought.

What are the limitations of your job?

For a graduate engineer working on their first project it can be very daunting as we are given a lot of responsibility and are constantly solving problems that arise. Whilst it is daunting, it is a steep learning curve where I may not always have all the relevant information in front of me. As mentioned before it’s about being aware of where your knowledge gaps are and finding ways to tackle it.

3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...

  • If you can, take a break between study and work and making the most of your time off, I regret not taking a holiday before commencing work.
  • Manage your time better – ensuring that you have enough time to work, study and play
  • Go on exchange in a different country – I never went on exchange and regretted it