I started my post-high school studies with a Bachelor Commerce, having no idea at the time what I really wanted to do. I saw Commerce as a good way to gain an understanding of the fundamentals of business and give me some direction. During and after my degree, I travelled a lot and did a few business-related internships that gave me insights into what I was interested in and what industry I wanted to work in. This, plus growing up on a farm, led me to engineering and I added a Masters of Engineering (Mechanical). It’s funny that although I started my life at AECOM as a mechanical engineer I now work as an economist… go figure!
I generally get into the office early and get my pick of desk (our Melbourne office has hot desking). I work on a large variety of projects, so some mornings will be spent following up on emails, whereas on other mornings I’ll dive straight into something like economic modelling for a range of infrastructure investments or doing some project-management tasks. The economics team also has a routine coffee run where we head out of the office in the morning to have a quick coffee and catch up to talk about our projects.
Lunch is a very important part of the day in the kitchen where the daily quiz takes place. The quiz comes with (friendly) heated debate and a lot of fun. My afternoons consist of things like writing reports or researching economic data and economic parameters used in models and analysis. Generally, I will have a couple of project meetings and — on a good day — Cake Club (yes, Melbourne has a Cake Club and it’s amazing!). If all goes well, I’m on my bike at 5:30 or 6 p.m. to head home.
While Cake Club and the quiz are great engagement tools, there are challenging aspects of being part of the economics team that also keep me interested and engaged. The projects I work on are highly varied; one day, I might be interviewing cargo owners to find ways to improve the efficiency of their supply chain, and the next I might be building a model to investigate the economic benefits of urban renewal. Being able to wear multiple hats and quickly switch them can be challenging, but it’s very rewarding. I have had the opportunity to learn a lot about industries that I previously never knew anything about.
In addition to team outings, the Connect Committee (AECOM’s early professionals’ group) and the Social Club put on a huge range of events throughout the year that are heaps of fun and a great opportunity to meet people from across the business.
I’m also lead AECOM’s Corporate Social Responsibility program, called ‘Give Back’, here in the Melbourne office. This is a committee of 15 people who promote our corporate social responsibility program. My role means that I am part of the roll-out of a huge range of initiatives across the office from volunteering at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre to meditation and yoga in the office. The Melbourne office has a focus on mental health, the environment and education outreach this year, and we provide opportunities for staff to get involved and make a difference.
It is a fantastic time to join the infrastructure industry with unprecedented government spending. City-shaping projects are happening across the industry meaning it’s the perfect time to learn and make your mark. Infrastructure impacts everyone and is presenting major challenges, and the industry is going to have to move quickly and to respond innovatively.
I am looking forward to new, different, challenging projects this year that allow me to improve outcomes in public infrastructure and innovate in the way we approach investment in infrastructure.