A chance conversation in a café led Daniel Stojcevski to Seymour Whyte. But after almost two years, he has shown the value of finding the right fit.
“I graduated from university in May 2017, and I was trying to find work after that, within engineering,” Daniel remembers.
“I wasn’t successful, and I ended up doing a bit of part-time work, installing floorboards at a café. When working at the café, I met a construction leading hand who worked at Sydney airport, and we got talking. He told me about Seymour Whyte and that they needed engineers. I put my resume in, and from there, I just went through the process and got the job.”
Now, Daniel has the opportunity of a lifetime, after being selected as the company’s first International Graduate Program participant.
The 32-month program aims to provide graduates with opportunities and challenges; encouraging them to learn through new professional experiences. Daniel will soon be joining other graduates from around the world for intensive training in Paris before returning to Sydney to start the program. Daniel will then spend 16 months with Vinci Construction France from 2021 working in their building, civil engineering or utilities infrastructure teams as a ‘construction engineer’.
The incredible opportunity marks the next chapter in a career Daniel worked hard to develop.
Daniel’s path into engineering was longer than many: he first started studying physics, then transferred into engineering. From there, family commitments kept him from studying full time and his university career wound up taking nine years.
It is a path that not every company would appreciate, something Daniel is all too aware of.
“I went to an interview with another company before I applied to Seymour Whyte,” he said.
“They asked me in an interview, why did it take you so long to finish your degree, why did it take you nine years? I explained it to them, and a minute or two after that, they asked me to leave the room, then they came out a few minutes later and said they’d “let me know”.
“I knew at that moment that wasn’t the company for me, because they didn’t appreciate my different path.”
For Daniel, his academic pursuits had to take a back seat to family responsibilities for a while.
“Studying wasn’t my full focus,” he said.
“I had to help make ends meet at home, and make sure that my family were ok. I appreciate family values. I worked hard. I did what I needed to do to take care of what was important to me at the time. It helped me become more mature; and build up other life skills.”
After applying for a graduate position at Seymour Whyte, Daniel found that his different path was an asset.
“I guess coming into Seymour Whyte, I was quite mature, but I had no experience. They took a punt and said, ‘we’ll give this guy a go’, and it’s been very good. I bring the maturity, but I didn’t know much about construction.”
Daniel first worked with our precontracts team in Sydney; and has been with our M4 Smart Motorway project team since May 2018. He’s found a team culture that he fits well in to and appreciates.
“What I enjoy about Seymour Whyte is the way we treat our colleagues and how we are with each other; how we help each other out, our culture. We all have a good laugh and are friendly, but we also work very hard and everyone pulls their weight, especially on the M4.”
“The team helps you grow, and if you make mistakes, they won’t chide you and make you feel bad, but they’ll help you understand how to do things and train you up if they need to. There’s definitely a mentality of helping you grow, they want you to be the best person you can be.”
And he even has one of the first M4 Most Valuable Player (MVP) Awards to show for it, after being named one of two winners of the first round of quarterly awards. He said the win helped him realise how much his hard work was valued by the team.
“It helped cement – pun intended – within myself that I was doing a good job,” he said.
“There’s no praise and glory in the office every day, everyone just goes about their work. I wasn’t trying to seek that either, so it was like ‘wow, these guys really do appreciate all the hard work’. I already felt valued, but I guess it helped increase that feeling a bit.”
Coming into construction without much experience in the industry, a few things surprised Daniel.
“I was surprised by how fast-paced it is, how dynamic it is, how things can change very fast, but how we adapt.”
The importance of so-called “soft skills” also made an impression on him.
“You go to university and learn technical skills, but working in construction, you realise how much people management skills are involved and communication skills, which aren’t taught as much.
“I’ve learned that this is one of the most important things: how you convey yourself, how you understand the message, and also how honest you need to be in this job. If you don’t understand something, just be honest and accountable.”
As for the future, Daniel’s goals are clear.
“I want to just keep on growing with the company, and as a person. Not just in terms of my career, but to help myself grow mentally and emotionally. Also, with my career, to keep on developing myself as an engineer.”
“I ultimately just want to be a good person and a good engineer.”