What it does: Infrastructure and property
Staff stats: Around 4,000
The good bits: Working with clever, passionate and fun colleagues
The not so good bits: Long hours, weekend work
The John Holland story
John Holland was a Victorian civil engineer whose early career was interrupted by WWII. A few years after being demobbed from the army, he started an eponymous business. It began modestly, with a contract to build a shed on a farm owned by (future PM) Malcolm Fraser. It didn’t take long for the business to scale up into a major construction, tunnelling, rail, building and services provider.
John Holland, played a pivotal role in projects such as the Snowy Mountains Scheme, the rebuilding of Darwin following Cyclone Tracy, the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Canberra’s new Parliament House and Melbourne’s $2.5 billion EastLink freeway. The company also went global, working on projects in New Zealand and, eventually, throughout Asia and the Middle East.
Over the last three decades, the company has changed hands several times. It is also the founding member of the Supply Chain Sustainability School. It was first purchased by Janet Holmes à Court in 1991. It then ended up in the hands of Leighton Holdings in 2000. Most recently, it was purchased by China Communications Construction Company (the world’s fourth-largest building company) in 2015 for $1.15 billion.
At any given time, the company typically has 100 projects, worth around $5.5 billion, on the go.
Construction remains a blokey industry. So, it’s not surprising to find only around 25 per cent of the company’s white-collar staff (think project engineers and finance professionals) and two per cent of its blue-collar staff (think tradies and labourers) are female. What is perhaps surprising is that the company, in particular its full-time Diversity and Inclusion Manager, is going to great lengths to raise those figures to, respectively, 35 per cent and five per cent by the end of 2018. The company’s CEO wants John Holland to “be the first choice in our industry for women”. He has stated, “Promoting gender balance and female participation and inclusion at John Holland is an essential prerequisite for our business to achieve our strategic growth plans”.
The company is committed to “building, valuing and promoting diversity and inclusiveness across our business”. It seeks to “employ, motivate and develop outstanding people – regardless of their gender, age or ethnic background”.
Staff are treated “fairly and with respect”. They are provided with “a safe, equitable, culturally appropriate and inclusive working environment that allows everyone to achieve their full potential”.
John Holland is particularly concerned with sustainability. Staff are required to keep 10 ‘project sustainability elements’ front of mind. The company is also an active member of the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA), Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia (ISCA), Australian Constructors Association’s Sustainability Working Party and the Australian Supply Chain Sustainability School (ASCSS).
Plus, the company strives to “engage with communities to achieve best practice environmental and social outcomes”.
The recruitment process
While applicants’ academic results are taken into consideration, the company is focused on hiring for attitude. That is, finding grads “who are driven… have a genuine interest and passion for the construction industry… [are] eager to learn and have an ability to build relationships”.
John Holland offers a two-year ‘Global Graduate Program’ with multiple streams. While it’s not specified, it appears the company is open to applications from those with degrees relevant to the following business areas:
- Accounting & Finance
- Building, Property
- Commercial, Legal, New Business
- Communications, Community
- Construction Project Management
- Development & Investment
- Engineering - Civil
- Engineering - Other
- Planning, Project Control
- Procurement, Logistics
- Safety, Environment, Quality
- Supervisory, Line Management
The recruitment process involves grads visiting the company website’s career page and searching for a suitable role. If judged to meet the necessary criteria after making an online application, applicants are then asked to complete online assessments. If that goes well, they are invited in for a face-to-face interview. The final stage of the process involves doing applicants doing a medical, providing proof of their right to work in Australia and having their references checked.
Those offered a grad role “get the opportunity to gain experience both in technical and soft skills, whilst working for one of Australia’s leading and most diverse infrastructure and property companies”. They are provided with:
- Work rotations designed to increase their understanding of the overall industry
- On-the-job and structured training designed to help them establish and build a fulfilling career
- Networking opportunities with former graduates, employees and senior leaders to build personal and professional networks
Among other areas (see below), the company prides itself on being an industry leader when it comes to remuneration. As well as above-average salaries, John Holland staff have access to paid parental/carers leave and the ability to salary sacrifice eight weeks additional leave a year. They receive discounted gym memberships, free flu vaccinations and access to a range of wellness and lifestyle perks. These include a ‘Better Sleep’ program and ‘Flex Your Work’ program that offers flexible working arrangements to make it easier to balance personal and professional responsibilities.
Company employees also get discounts on products and services provided by Apple, Audi, BMW, Bunnings, BUPA, Lexus, Qantas Club, RT Health, Toyota and Volkswagen.
Even after 60 years, John Holland continues to grow. It is currently an exciting time for the company. It has billions of work to deliver and needs “the right people with the right attitude” to help deliver it.
Backing up its oft-stated belief “our greatest resource is our people”, the company prides itself “on being a market leader in targeting training, career development and remuneration”. It offers “long-term career options within an equal opportunity workplace”.
If you’re the ambitious type, John Holland will furnish you with all the mentoring and training you require to take advantage of the many career development opportunities that will come your way.
The vibe of the place
John Holland prides itself on its high-performance culture and its values of “integrity, innovation, collaboration, accountability and care”. If you’re looking for a well-paid, intellectually challenging career with a dynamic, forward-thinking company that puts an enormous amount of effort into maintaining its ‘employer of choice’ status, you should find John Holland to your liking.
From the Employer:
"Our industry is an exciting one, and John Holland has a rich history of delivering landmark projects and industry leading innovation. Operating across Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia, we have been transforming city skylines, connecting regional centres and providing vital infrastructure for more than six decades. The infrastructure we build and the contracting, engineering and services solutions we provide leave a legacy that has helped shape the nation.
We understand that choosing where to start your career is a big decision, that’s why we have designed a graduate program that will provide a structured learning experience through rotations, training and development opportunities and support.
The structured two-year program provides graduates with soft skills development, on-the-job experience and opportunities to network with senior leaders representing John Holland’s broad operations. The skills and knowledge that you will develop will give you a professional advantage in the increasingly competitive workforce, wherever your career may take you.
The recruitment process is based on more than just your academic results, we look for a diverse range of candidates who are driven and have a genuine interest and passion for the construction industry, eager to learn, and have an ability to build relationships."