What's your job about?
I am a Graduate Engineer for John Holland and I am currently doing my commercial/procurement rotation on the Calvary Adelaide Hospital. This is my second rotation on this building project and my role is to help my team identify and employ the most suitable supplier/subcontractor to help us deliver the project through a tendering process. In a nutshell, my job is to see what works or supplies are required on the project and then find the companies who may be interested in taking up the work. I will then establish a connection with these interested companies and help them understand what we need for our project and what the parameters are. Once they understand what we need I will get them to submit a price for the works in a tender submission. My team and I will review these submissions and then negotiate prices, terms and conditions with the preferred tenderer to best suit our budget and project needs. It’s always interesting talking to different people from different companies and getting their take on what can be done on our project. The most interesting and, at the same time, most challenging part of my role is the process of learning in detail about different trades. Once I understand the works better, it becomes a goal of mine to find the best possible solution with the least amount of money. I picture this process as if it was my own business so it becomes more enticing for me to ensure I get everything right.
What's your background?
I was born in Hong Kong and moved to Melbourne, Australia when I was 5 years old. After completing high school, I studied Architecture at Deakin University. During this time, I studied abroad in Hong Kong University. Being in the heart of Asia I was central to so many different countries. I took advantage of that and travelled through China, Japan, Korea and Thailand. After completing my degree, I worked for an architecture firm for a year but realised it wasn’t the thing I wanted to be doing. Believe it or not, I became a lifeguard and did that for the next 4 years. Being a lifeguard got me out of my comfort zone. It taught me how to connect with different people, problem solve under pressure (especially during rescues) and how to run in slow motion like Hasselhoff in Baywatch- two of those three skills were transferrable to what I do today. One of my goals during my lifeguarding days was to purchase my first investment property. After a couple of years of vigorous saving I did just that. I had some renovations done to the property and got more and more interested in managing building works, and that’s the reason why I went back to university to study Construction Management. Throughout that time my interest grew from residential construction to commercial, which inevitably led my interest in applying for one of Australia’s leading contracting company.
Could someone with a different background do your job?
I believe someone with a different education background can do a similar role to what I am currently doing as I believe my role is heavily dependent on the following 3 skills:
The one thing that may take some time to pick up is learning how to read drawings and contracts. The lingo and technical components of the job comes with time. It’s not rocket science.
What's the coolest thing about your job?
One aspect of my job which I love the most is the value management component. This is where I try to find ways to make things more efficient or cost-effective to minimise the overall cost for the project.
Another aspect to what I love about my job is knowing that I am a part of a bigger process which builds something that others can benefit from - a hospital. The final construct will be there for many years to come like a legacy I can leave behind.
What are the limitations of your job?
Here’s the list, but I love my job nonetheless: long hours, sometimes required to work weekends, pressure (from boss, time constraints, subcontractors, responsibility, and not knowing everything), dealing with difficult people at times and being away from family and friends (I relocated to Adelaide from Melbourne for the project). Regardless of this, it has been an incredible learning curve for me and very passionate about what I do.
3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...