A better balance for what is important is a good thing

Andrew Deck, Seymour Whyte Project Director on Sydney’s M4 Smart Motorway project, knows first-hand how hard it is to balance life and work.

Andrew Deck Project Director

"I'm a big believer in work ethic, working hard and giving 100 percent all day and every day to what you do. I’m passionate about that. But on reflection I think, in the earlier days of my career, I probably focused too much on work,” he said.

Andrew started his career when working six days a week was the norm.

"Six days were a full six days, so you would have a Sunday off – if you were lucky”, he said.

"Quite often, you would use Sunday to catch up on things to get ready for Monday – I definitely would not be in the industry if that was still the case,” he added.

The industry has changed since. Now, as a leader and mentor to his younger team, Andrew tries to model the importance of keeping work life and home life in harmony.

The team will often hear him say: “Work/life balance! If you’ve got to go and pick up the kids, then go and pick up the kids”.

Andrew says that this is easy to say, but much harder to do and he’s a big believer that this is something that we need to keep working on and lead by example in the industry.

While he admits the team is still working on getting the balance right, Andrew’s commitment to making his project a place that values both excellence and flexibility is evident in both word and deed.

“It’s a fine balance between believing in commitment, dedication, work ethic, working hard, being present, being available, not letting people down, delivering on commitments that you make.

“For example, if you say you are going to do something by tomorrow, you stay back and do it. Balancing that with having a family, kids and life is not easy, and there’s not one easy answer”, he said.

Andrew acknowledges that we all go through different phases in our lives – kids, families, personal challenges; and that there is a need for flexibility and to respect that wherever possible without diminishing quality of life and expectations at work.

Andrew added, “I’m keen to get better at advocating work-life balance. I’m also keen for staff to seek the harmony between ‘living and working’; and I encourage them to do that. If you can manage to find a balance and keep your work performing at a high standard, then that’s a good thing.”

On a big project when the pressure to put in long hours can be intense, Andrew is encouraging his team to think differently about what excellence and dedication look like.

“Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.”

“I believe in not being here late every night just because everyone else is and I guess I’m trying to lead by example on that – not all that well at times, but that’s something we all need to keep working on.

“Efficiency in how you operate, planning your day and cutting out the less important things is a big part of the puzzle in organising yourself at home and at work.

“It’s not sustainable to have people working 14 hours a day, every day, because you will burn out.”

Andrew joined Seymour Whyte in 2015, after working closely with the company on a previous joint venture and seeing first-hand the advantages of working with an organisation that was small but growing.

Initially, he looked after Seymour Whyte’s NSW projects as the Regional Construction Manager, but after Seymour Whyte won the M4 Smart Motorway Stages 2 and 3 Project in Sydney, Andrew decided to focus full time on one of the biggest jobs Seymour Whyte has undertaken [yet].

“My philosophy allows me to focus on what is important: work, life and balance,” he concluded.