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ACCIONA Australia and New Zealand

  • 1,000 - 50,000 employees

Jack Webster

I often feel a great sense of achievement when our team completes a project, making the work more worthwhile. On top of these cool aspects of my job, there is also a great golf day and Christmas party which are fun extras!

What does your employer do and what are your areas of responsibility?

ACCIONA Geotech is one of Australia’s largest engineering and construction companies, that specialises in technically complex construction services including civil and rail infrastructure along with ground and mechanical engineering. My role within ACCIONA Geotech is predominantly based on site at varying construction projects, wherein my responsibility involves coordinating site works, tasks, deliveries, quality assurance, budgets and schedules to provide support to project engineers and managers.

What are you exactly doing? Tell us details about your daily work and your specific tasks.

Currently, I am working on the Level Crossing Removal Project at Glen Huntly Station. During a working day, I often interact with suppliers, clients, construction workers, supervisors, managers and engineers to support our project manager running the project. A day on-site begins with a pre-start in the morning at 7.00 am to cover the plan for the day’s production. For me, a walk to each piling rig crew following pre-start is habitual to check in with the crew and supervisor to see if any permits, quality assurance, concrete or cage orders are required. After each site crew is set up and piling, I usually head back to the site office to attend to any emails or tasks. Tasks that I regularly need to attend in the site office include readying cage orders for processing, generating purchase orders, updating quality assurance spreadsheets, cost tracking, budgeting, talking to suppliers for upcoming resource requirements and updating SWMS. During the day, I’ll go check in on each piling rig crew regularly to see their progress and report back to the client or our project manager as required.

I often email suppliers for quotes or to confirm retention cage orders for them to manufacture, which sometimes involves a site visit to their yard to check and approve these cages before they are delivered to site. Client meetings surrounding piling production occur weekly so that production of the project can be followed. Any delays, safety issues, inclement weather and variations are discussed in these meetings and actioned if necessary. We also have an ACCIONA Geotech weekly meeting on Mondays where each engineer or manager shares the week’s production for their project. In this client and ACCIONA Geotech meeting, I typically share my notes for the week which include production, delays and forecasted works. Most fortnights on Monday there is a construction RDO where site crews have the day off, but office staff still work. On these days I work in our head office in Port Melbourne, with this being a great opportunity to interact with the HR team, designers, engineers and managers who I do not usually get to see on-site. RDO’s also provide a great chance to complete tasks that I might be too busy to finish when on-site.

Does a teenager understand what you are doing? State any kind of interesting details!

I provide a support role for project engineers or managers who are running large scale civil and rail infrastructure projects. When starting my role at ACCIONA Geotech, I did not entirely understand the construction industry and the type of work it demanded. Over the past two years, I have come to know that the construction industry has an extremely fast paced and everchanging environment, wherein it is always a thrill working on site each day. The role of site engineer can sometimes be hands on wherein I’ve been required to complete different types of tests on foundation piles that we’ve completed. There is also a large office aspect to the role, in which this combination of a fast-paced environment in both the office and on site makes for a very interesting job. I’m always excited to see what the day brings as it can often change so quickly, and I would recommend a role in the construction industry to anyone interested whether they have an engineering background or not.

Where did you grow up? What were the important stages of your life? How did you get to your current job position and for how long have you been doing it already?

I’ve grown up in Melbourne, Victoria and lived here my whole life. From a young age, I was always interested in the mechanics of structures whether it be through using Lego, constructing mini go-karts or admiring complex architecture and design. Although I was also interested in sports and fitness, my true educational passion for engineering became realised in high school where I often found myself drawn to subjects like mathematics or science. This led to me deciding to enrol in a Bachelor of Engineering at the Swinburne University of Technology, majoring in Civil Engineering.

Before starting this course, I decided to defer for a year to work as an outdoor education trainee at a school camp in Yarra Junction where I also lived away from home for a year. For me, this was an extremely important stage in my life as it allowed me to gain a sense of independence and responsibility outside the confines of my house and immediate social environment. It also provided a break from study, which was dearly needed after a fun, but intense Year 12 curriculum. This working gap year also gave me a chance to reflect on my decision to enrol in Swinburne’s Bachelor of Engineering, in which I was confident and excited about my choice to undertake the course. The main reason for my excitement surrounded the fact that this course offered the opportunity to complete a placement year at one of Swinburne’s partner companies.

After completing the first two years of my Bachelor of Engineering, I applied for a full-time placement role at ACCIONA Geotech for 2020 through Swinburne’s SwinEmploy/InPlace website. I was successful in obtaining a job as an Undergraduate Site Engineer and started in January 2020. This placement year entailed many challenges, namely COVID-19 restrictions, but I was lucky enough to work full-time on site on the new State Library Station entrance for the Melbourne Metro Tunnel Project. The support and mentoring given to me helped tremendously in facilitating my learning and cementing my engineering knowledge from university. My colleagues also provided a great deal of insight regarding the expectations and specific duties involved in being a site engineer.

Since finishing up on this project at the end of 2020, I have continued working at ACCIONA Geotech on a casual basis whilst completing the remainder of my studies. Over this time, I have worked on three Level Crossing Removal Projects including Williamstown, Chelsea and Glen Huntly LCRPs, along with several building projects throughout the broader Melbourne area. Once I graduate at the end of 2022, I intend to join ACCIONA Geotech in a full-time graduate role in January 2023 and take part in the ACCIONA Graduate Program!

Could someone with a different background do your job?

Definitely! My Bachelor of Engineering is valuable in obtaining an understanding of the technical language and literature involved in engineering and construction, however many of the skills required to be a site engineer are developed on site and in the workplace. Much of the role is about communicating effectively with each of the parties on site to ensure everyone is striving for the same objective. This ensures that strong relationships with clients, suppliers and colleagues are built, which is extremely important when working in the construction industry. Those who enjoy a fast-paced work environment and adapting to changing situations will relish in a job like this. If you house an innovative and forward-thinking mind, this is also a great job to utilise this skillset. 

What's the coolest thing about your job?

The coolest thing for me is the fact that the construction industry provides an amazing pathway to impact society positively towards a better, more sustainable future. As a site engineer, the impact is small to start off with however this job provides a great avenue for me to progress in the industry where I can find ways to benefit society through infrastructure projects and implement them on my own accord.

Another cool thing about my job is the team aspect and nature of the role. In my role I am working with construction workers, supervisors, engineers and managers, all of who have a common goal. It is great working with such a diverse range of people who can share their knowledge and experience with me so that I can constantly improve and grow in my role. I’ve really enjoyed working on site, as the site crews on each project characterize a close group environment where everyone can get to know each other easily. Working with engineers and managers has also been great as they are always happy to help and impart their knowledge, which has fast-tracked my learning tremendously. 

The last cool thing about my job that I’ll mention is the fact that I get to work on large-scale, tier 1-infrastructure projects. There is a real sense of pride when working on these projects as they have a significant and positive impact on society. I often feel a great sense of achievement when our team completes a project, making the work more worthwhile. On top of these cool aspects of my job, there is also a great golf day and Christmas party which are fun extras!

Do you bear a lot of responsibility? What's for you the biggest limitation in your job?

I have been able to bear as much responsibility as I want (to a point). When starting at ACCIONA Geotech, I mainly took care of site notes and quality assurance, but this quickly evolved into client and supplier correspondence along with organising schedules for upcoming works. Through asking for more responsibility within the company, I have also been able to complete project budgets, forecasts, schedules and cost tracking which are all helpful skills when progressing into a graduate role. I am also currently setting up a new job wherein I will likely run this project as the lead engineer. The responsibility given at ACCIONA Geotech is dependent on how much you’d like in your role, and I recommend always asking for more responsibility as it shows your initiative and commitment to your role. The one limitation as an Undergraduate Site Engineer is that it is more difficult to make or finalise decisions without approval from managers. However, as I continue to grow and progress within the company and my career, the more freedom I will have to make these decisions as I will have the experience to properly judge such situations. 

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

  1. When applying for jobs, always ask those in the relevant industry about their experiences, recommendations and tips when seeking an entry-level role. This helps in making decisions easier when choosing which jobs to apply for as well as which job to accept.
  2. Always look for opportunities throughout the university to gain industry experience as it not only will provide valuable expertise and knowledge but might also offer a pathway into a full-time role within the industry of your passion.
  3. Always ask questions if you don’t know the answer, whether it be at university, in the workplace or in your personal life, it is important to ask questions to ensure you gain a full understanding of yourself and your role in both your professional and person life.