What it does: Designs, builds and sustains assets, infrastructure and facilities
Staff stats: Around 53,000 staff, mainly based in Australia and New Zealand
The good bits: Flexibility, opportunities for professional development
The not so good bits: Not as many young staff
Hiring grads with degrees in Engineering, Maths, IT & Computer Sciences; Finance, Accounting, Economics & Business Administration, Marketing
In 1933 Arnold Downer founded Downer & Co, an engineering and construction business that was soon providing large-scale public and private infrastructure throughout New Zealand. Over the next six decades, it merged with or acquired some similar companies. It also purchased the civil construction arm of the New Zealand Ministry of Works & Development when it was privatised in 1996. The company listed on the Australian Stock Exchange in 1998. It subsequently went on to buy Tenix’s construction assets and BP’s Bitumix, a road-sealing business. In 2001, Downer merged with Evan Deakin Industries, an Australian engineering company and shipbuilder.
The company is headquartered in Sydney and most of its work continues to be in Australia and New Zealand. But it also has operations throughout the Asia-Pacific region and has completed projects in South America and Southern Africa. It services customers in the following industries: Transport; Rail, Technology and Communications; Utilities; Engineering, Construction and Maintenance; Oil and Gas and Mining . In 2019, it had revenue of $13.4 billion and Underlying profit of $340.1 million.
Downer has a “commitment to supporting a workforce which is as diverse as the community within which it operates”. It also aims to maintain compliance with “legal and regulatory requirements including gender reporting and the flexible work provisions under the Fair Work Act.”
The company defines inclusiveness as “recognising and embracing individual differences in our workforce, including gender, age, ethnic and cultural background, physical ability and flexible work requirements”. Downer is currently focused on attracting, retaining and promoting more women, as well as more Indigenous Australians and Maori New Zealanders.
Downer has embedded a ‘Zero Harm’ philosophy in its corporate culture. This revolves around supporting the health and safety of its staff and minimising the environmental impact of its operations. Downer is “committed to the development of robust environmental management systems and resource efficiency programs that will sustain our natural environment for future generations”.
In 2019 Downer launched its Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) for 2019-2021, which reaffirms its commitment to the reconciliation process and builds on its Reflect RAP, which was delivered successfully.
Downer has a commitment to supporting the communities in which it operates and in addition to providing local employment opportunities, Downer is focused on making a difference through partnerships, sponsorships and donations.
Downer’s Graduate Program runs for two years. It involves structured rotations, regular development training sessions, networking opportunities and one-on-one mentoring from senior leaders. It aims to produce “well-rounded, highly skilled professionals”. Aside from having a relevant degree, candidates are expected to be knowledgeable about what Downer does and demonstrate leadership abilities and emotional intelligence.
The recruitment process may vary depending on the discipline and business unit you’re applying for. Our recruitment follows the conventional stages, first you’ll need to apply online then complete a video interview and finally, participate in an assessment centre where you will take part in teamwork activities, face-to-face interviews and deliver a presentation to senior leaders.
Downer claims to provide “competitive remuneration” and grads report their salaries being at or a bit above the industry average. If your work duties involve relocating or regular travel you will be eligible for the relevant allowances. Other perks included novated leases or discounts on vehicle purchases or rentals, subsidised health insurance and gym memberships and cheap tickets to sporting events.
Downer invests a lot of resources in training grads and views them as the future leaders of the business. If you aspire to move up the ranks you’ll receive plenty of support and encouragement. That said, as you are promoted, you’ll find yourself spending less time doing what you trained to do (e.g. being an engineer) and lots more time managing people and projects.
Your experience will differ depending on where you’re working. Downer staff seem to not spend much time socialising after hours. Nonetheless, managers are approachable and co-workers are typically friendly and supportive. You can also expect a reasonable work-life balance.
Overall satisfaction rating among grad employees: 4.3 out of 5
"Downer has a proud history of employing the best people and working closely with our customers to help them be successful. Regardless of where in Australia you study, chances are that you benefit from the transportation, infrastructure and technology & communication services we provide millions of Australians every day.
At Downer, our customers are at the heart of everything we do. Our purpose is to create and sustain the modern environment by building trusted relationships with our customers. Our promise is to work closely with our customers to help them succeed, using world leading insights and solutions.
Our program is a two-year commitment providing exposure to different areas of the business through induction, structured rotations, development workshops, annual conference, networking opportunities and one-on-one mentoring from our business leaders.
Commencing a graduate career with Downer will undoubtedly broaden your horizons. Regardless of your academic discipline, you will be encouraged to step out of your comfort zone and work with team members across all sections and levels of the business. Although you will ultimately be accountable for your own your future, we will both challenge and support you in realising your full potential and aligning your professional growth to our business objectives and that of the customers we support.
Downer’s ongoing success centres on an inclusive environment. This means we embrace the diversity of thought and the innovative solutions it generates for our customers. Key to this is attracting, selecting, developing and retaining talent from a vast array of backgrounds and experiences, so we actively encourage applicants from all sections of the community to apply for the Downer Graduate Program."