What it does: Commercial construction
Staff stats: 460 full-timers
The good bits: Friendly, supportive culture
The not so good bits: Big workloads
Hiring grads with degrees in: Property & Built Environment
The Kane story
Kane Constructions, commonly referred to as Kane, launched in 1973. It was originally run out of a tiny office above an inner-city Melbourne antiques shop. It started out doing small jobs for primary schools, councils and a nearby waste water treatment plant.
The business got its big break in 1980 when it was awarded a $5 million contract to build the West Gippsland Arts Centre. During the 1980s and 1990s, the company continued to grow, attracting prestige clients such as Monash University, the University of Melbourne and University Hospital Geelong. When Melbourne won the right to host the Australian Grand Prix in 1995, Kane secured the contract to build the Pit Buildings and temporary structures.
As the Millennium approached, Kane began to expand internationally, completing projects in Pakistan, Papua New Guinea and Western Samoa. By 1999 it had opened an office in Sydney and was working alongside Grocon on the lavish refurbishment of Sydney’s GPO.
Over the last couple of decades, Kane has built hospitals, community facilities, Department of Defence buildings, schools, research institutes, university facilities and performing arts centres. In Queensland it was responsible for both the restoration of Old Government House and the redevelopment of King George Square.
The company was awarded the 2016 National Commercial Master Builder of the Year by Master Builders Australia and was also awarded Master Builder of the Year in Victoria for two years running in 2016 and 2017 by the Master Builders Association of Victoria.
Kane remains privately owned. It has annual turnover in excess of $800 million. Still headquartered in Richmond, Melbourne, it now has an office in Sydney. It undertakes construction projects across the east coast of Australia, and on occasion, overseas.
The company does not appear to have an official diversity policy beyond noting, “Our culture welcomes differing personalities and leadership styles but strong, complementary teams are fundamental”.
Nonetheless, staff report it being one of the Australian construction industry’s more inclusive employers. In particular, the company appears to make an effort to recruit and promote women and ensure they are treated respectfully.
Kane’s corporate social responsibility initiatives include fundraising barbecues , an annual commitment to OXFAM, Deaf Children Australia, Melbourne Lions, Special Children’s and also supporting clients including the RACV Community Foundation, Barwon Health, Epworth HealthCare and Cabrini Health.. The company seeks to minimise its environmental impact and some staff are members of the Green Building Council of Australia.
The recruitment process
The company takes pride in “employing young people and mentoring them in the Kane way”. Early-career staff, university educated or otherwise, are “trained and empowered to take on new challenges and fulfil their potential”. Furthermore, “In an industry where transience is common, at Kane, great value is placed on long-term employment and the sharing of experience”.
It appears Kane hires architecture, building and engineering grads and funnels them into project-management, contract-administration and project engineering positions.
Kane takes a lot of care with staff selection. It does this to ensure employees – especially those in or destined for leadership roles – are “of the highest calibre”. Given the corporate culture, you’re most likely to be offered a grad position if you can demonstrate you’ll be a team player, show initiative, act with integrity and conduct yourself professionally.
If you’re interested in a grad position at the company, you’ll need to email a CV and cover letter to one of its four offices. While there doesn’t appear to be a set process, you should then expect to do a first-round phone interview, followed by a face-to-face interview. During these interviews, you can expect to be asked technical questions and quizzed about why you want to work in the construction industry.
Kane does not appear to offer structured grad programs with set schedules. Instead, most learning is done on the job. As you learn more and become more competent, you will be handed more responsibility. (It is not uncommon to go from a newbie grad to fully fledged staff member within six months.
For example, if you are offered a ‘Cadet Contract Administrator’ position, you’ll be trained to “perform contract administration and coordination functions of projects efficiently, safely and profitably using the Kane BMS [Business Management System]”.
As a cadet, you initially have no authority and will be closely mentored. You will be delegated tasks from the project plan, expected to maintain BMS records, as well as take care of project documentation and financial reporting. You will also liaise with subcontractors, suppliers and the site manager and keep the lines of communication open with the client and consultants.
Authority will be progressively delegated to you as your skills develop and you gain confidence. At some point, you’ll be allowed to work as an assistant to an administrator or project manager and be given more autonomy. When you’re ready, you’ll be promoted to an administrator position.
While Kane doesn’t publicise its remuneration arrangements current and former staff say it “pays well”. The main perk seems to be attending well-catered social events, such as team dinners, company parties and industry award nights.
Despite now being a mid-sized enterprise, Kane continues to think of itself as the “competitive, lean and hungry” business it started out as. Staff are encouraged to hang around and “grow with the business”. The company has a “flat and open management structure”. While this may make it harder to get promoted later on (if you stick around), it means you’ll enjoy plenty of autonomy and get wide-ranging experience early on in your career.
The vibe of the place
Kane describes its culture as one that is entrepreneurial and welcoming of new ideas. Staff are expected to honour their commitments and collaborate courteously with clients, consultants, colleagues, subcontractors and suppliers. The company seeks to foster “a sense of community and pride in the company” and ensure it is a “friendly and fun place to work”.
Star Rating: 4.5 stars
From the Employer:
"We are a multi award winning, privately owned commercial construction company active in all sectors of the industry. With a turnover in excess of $600 million and over 330 full time employees, we operate throughout the east coast of Australia and overseas. Our head office is located in Melbourne with offices in Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra.
In 2016 we were awarded National Commercial Master Builder of the Year by Master Builders Australia and for the second year running (2016, 2017), we have been awarded Master Builder of the Year in Victoria.
We engage and promote those with appropriate skills, experience and technical qualifications within a flat and open management structure. Graduates in building, engineering and architecture occupy project management and contract administration positions.
Careful staff selection ensures site managers and foremen of the highest calibre make up the on-site teams. Teamwork, backed by effective communication systems and administration resources, ensures a highly motivated approach to the most challenging projects.
The Kane culture is evident in the way we behave, honour our commitments and collaborate with all stakeholders - clients, consultants, subcontractors, suppliers and work colleagues.
Professionalism, competence, integrity and enjoying what we do are the foundations of the culture; we know our business and believe in ourselves.
Employing young people and mentoring them in the Kane way is a key success factor. Our people are trained and empowered to take on new challenges and fulfil their potential and are rewarded accordingly. The need for work/life balance is accepted and as a result Kane attracts and retains staff.
We are opportunistic, entrepreneurial and we welcome new ideas. We have a supportive environment and systems which assist us in managing what we do whilst enhancing our performance.
We are competitive, lean and hungry. We are demanding of ourselves and accountable; we strive to exceed expectations in the knowledge that success and job satisfaction go hand in hand.
Our culture welcomes differing personalities and leadership styles but strong, complementary teams are fundamental.
In an industry where transience is common, at Kane, great value is placed on long term employment and the sharing of experience.
Open and efficient decision making from the top down with a flat, senior management structure ensures clear and effective communication and direction.
We are encouraged to grow with the business which fosters a strong sense of community and pride in the company. Kane is a uniquely friendly and fun place to work. As a result we are loyal and committed to securing the company's future; maintaining its culture and retaining its dynamism and the long term relationships that result.
The Kane cadet program has been developed over 40 years to ensure our most valuable asset, our people, are equipped with the skills to become leaders in their field. There are many disciplines cadets can specialise in, with career opportunities including Contract Administrator, Services Engineer, Site Engineer, Contract Manager, Design Manager, Project Manager and Construction Manager."