What it does: Engineering and design
Staff stats: 44,000
The good bits: Working on interesting projects
The not so good bits: Occasionally feeling like a cog in a giant machine
Hiring grads with degrees in: Engineering, Maths, IT & Computer Sciences; Property & Built Environment; Sciences
The WSP story
In 1885 an engineer called William Parsons founded a company and began designing everything from lines on New York’s subway, to canals in Cape Cod, to vast railway tracks connecting Chinese cities.
In 1906, a highway engineer and electrical railways specialist called Henry Brinckerhoff joined forces with Parsons. Their business, now called Parsons Brinckerhoff, went on to work on some of the most significant infrastructure projects of the 20th century. It helped build roads across the US, tunnels in Europe, power stations in the Middle East and rapid transit systems across Asia.
In 2009, Balfour Beatty (a British multinational infrastructure group) bought the business. After combining it with Halsall Associates (a large Canadian engineering firm), it then sold it on to WSP Global (commonly known as WSP) in 2014 for US$1.24 billion. The business was known as WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff until early 2017 when the name was shortened to WSP.
WSP, itself the result of decades of mergers and acquisitions, is one of the world’s leading engineering professional services firms. Headquartered in Montreal, it has a history stretching back to 1959. It now has 500 offices spread across 40 countries.
Since 2014, WSP has bought other engineering industry businesses such as MMM Group, Levelton and SPL Consultants. The business is keen to expand through further acquisitions and plans on employing 45,000 people by 2020. In 2016, WSP had revenues of C$6.4 billion (A$6.5 billion).
While it might have a blokey heritage, WSP has gotten with the diversity program. It aims “to create a workplace that is free from discrimination and offers equal opportunities, based on merit, in all areas of employment, recruitment, training and promotion”.
The company provides paid parental leave and flexible work options. It also sponsors a couple of ‘Women in Engineering’ scholarships at Australian universities.
In Australia, WSP’s diversity council is focused on “diversity training, communications and engagement, flexible working, increased female participation in leadership roles, employment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, salary parity and setting integrated diversity performance indicators”.
WSP combines its technical expertise and “understanding of the legal and financial drivers” to help its clients “improve performance across social, economic and environmental aspects of their business”. This can yield results such as emission and carbon footprint reductions, improved stakeholder engagement and the more efficient use of resources.
WSP’s environmental engineers, consultants and certified geologists have been involved in many cutting-edge environmental projects. They have also assisted hundreds of clients with “regulatory environmental compliance [to] help them be future-proof and grow their business”.
The recruitment process
WSP’s vision is to, “Always be the first choice for clients, partners and employees”. In Australia, it seeks out applicants who are “looking for ethics, integrity, engineering expertise and the opportunity to work on iconic green building projects”. WSP offers both internships and grad roles in most States and Territories. It seeks “curious engineers, scientists, technicians, planners, surveyors, sustainability specialists, project managers and economists”.
Aside from having a relevant qualification, you’ll need to “want to contribute… want to achieve outstanding milestones personally and professionally, and… want to work in an environment where you are relevant, valued and supported”.
To apply for an internship or grad role go here and click on the relevant State or Territory to see what is available. Applying for an internship involves submitting your resume and academic transcript then doing an online psychometric assessment.
Securing an internship then impressing your supervisors enough for them to offer you a job seems to be the simplest way to get a grad role. If you haven’t done an internship, you can apply for a grad role much the same way as you do for an internship here. (It’s worth noting that many grads have got positions at WSP in the past by applying through the company’s LinkedIn page, meeting someone at a networking event or being recommended by a third party).
Following the initial application and psychometric test, many candidates say they had to submit a video or selfie that summed up who they are. Some candidates had to do a phone interview with an HR staffer but many just did one or two interviews with a WSP manager working at the coalface. Some technical questions can be expected. However, the main purpose of any interviews that occur seems to be determining whether applicants will be a good cultural fit and embrace WSP’s values (i.e. “Innovative, trustworthy, united, passionate, caring”).
It’s not clear what training and support grads are provided with at WSP and it no doubt differs depending on the business area. But WSP promises grads they will “join a collaborative team of experts, who are fuelled by passion and unconventional thinking” and help “deliver equitable, resilient and competitive cities”.
Grad salaries at WSP appear to be at or below the industry average. Most grads don’t report having the opportunity to earn bonuses. Beyond the opportunity to work interstate or overseas (with your relocations costs covered), there don’t seem to be many perks. A minor subsidy is offered on health insurance and you may get free tickets to industry events. The company will occasionally shell out for Friday drinks or a team lunch.
SP might not offer staff in entry-level positions impressive salaries or benefits. But it does provide them with the chance to work for “a world-wide organisation [where] the range of opportunities, influences and experiences you can have are vast”. At WSP, you can expect to be “dealing with top-level clients”. You’ll work on “challenging, stimulating projects” and get exposure “to new ideas, technology and innovation”.
If you do have leadership potential, WSP will invest in its development. The company is proud of its leadership framework, which “enables people new to leadership to learn and develop the skills, tools and attitudes they need to succeed”.
The vibe of the place
WSP seeks to recruit “talented, supportive, friendly and open people”. People who “thrive on what they do and value a strong team dynamic”. In Australia, there is an energetic social committee that organises regular get-togethers. Most staff say the upbeat, collegial culture is one of the best things about working at WSP.
Star Rating: 4.1 stars
From the Employer:
"At WSP, we are united by a strong sense of purpose. A purpose to improve the societies we live in.
We are in a privileged position, to work with clients to tackle complex problems that impact on the betterment of societies. Increased urbanisation/densification, demographic shifts, climate change, and automation and technology, all require bigger thinking. They also require increased collaboration across industry, with government and most importantly, with the communities we serve.
The demand for technical excellence is high and the demand for innovation is even higher. If we are to fulfil our purpose and deliver equitable, resilient and competitive cities, where families and friends thrive, we need to question the status quo and embrace imagination.
We are seeking curious engineers, scientists, technicians, planners, surveyors, sustainability specialists, project managers and economists – who want to want to contribute – who want to achieve outstanding milestones personally and professionally, and who want to work in an environment where you are relevant, valued and supported.
We are proud to be one to the world’s leading engineering professional services consultancies. We proud to be to be certified as a ‘Great Place To Work’. We look forward to welcoming you to our WSP team."