Recently armed with a degree in civil engineering, Gabrielle Pawley is one of the 24 graduates with Seymour Whyte.
“I’ve set myself a number of goals this year: to develop myself as much as possible and take on further responsibility on-site,” says Graduate Engineer Gabrielle Pawley.
In life, her main goal is to live life. But in work, it’s to ultimately to be Chief Operating Officer (COO).
Graduate Engineer, Gabrielle Pawley making a real difference on one of the largest infrastructure road projects in Australia.
"While a Chief Executive Officer [CEO] has the command responsibility; the COO also holds a tremendous amount of responsibility too as well as overseeing the functions and general operations of the company.
"That is what I like: to lead and oversee the day-to-day operations while executing management strategies to help make the CEO’s vision a reality.”
Gabrielle explains that she wasn’t quite sure about what to do after high school.
"I read about being a COO in a book and considered a degree in Economics and Business Studies, then a week before uni, after speaking to my parents, I decided to do Engineering.”
“Engineering studies may seem to be difficult for first year students. My advice for anyone starting their degree would be to stick it out because the rewards are so much greater at the end.”
Many of Gabrielle’s friends changed degrees after the first year.
“Some of my friends did Communications degrees, and their exams were a lot easier than mine; and I often wondered if engineering was all too hard, but I stuck it out – and now I’m working on one of the largest road infrastructure projects in Australia.”
"Don't be afraid to go out there and get what you want,” she said.
Gabrielle started her first engineering job – one and a half years after graduating – coincidentally with Seymour Whyte to build 20 bridges for a new highway in northern New South Wales.
Her initial role, as one of the first engineers on site, was to organise supplies and subcontractors for the bridges to be built.
"I like putting things together and making it happen; and just like my dad – who started off as an electrician and is now a mining executive – I feel that he has been a big influence on me to always get what you want,” she said.
"Time management and planning have been my strong forte.
"In my first week at Seymour Whyte, I had to plan our works activities for new highway overpasses along Australia’s eastern seaboard.”
“I started off with reviewing the bridge drawings to vision these bridges that I was building in the middle of nowhere. I had to picture them one by one, and how they’d be built; prepare Safety Work Method Statements (SWMS), procure supplies and subcontractors, embark on numerous site visits to visualise how best to build the bridges.”
"My advice to any graduate engineer is to take the time to visit site with a supervisor or senior engineer to visualise what you’re building; and ask as many questions as you can, to learn from others who have the experience,” she added.
Today, having delivered all her bridges, Gabrielle is now working on one of the largest rigid concrete paving contracts in the country.
She said, “While bridges have more structural elements in them, and rigid paving is simply a long line of concrete, it is amazing how different the concrete specifications and testing regimes are for road pavements.”
"I am currently learning the specifications for concrete paving; and thanks to my project manager, David Bicknell, and the Seymour Whyte graduate program, I have been able to transfer my skills from bridge construction into rigid pavement construction.”
Over the last months, Gabrielle has been responsible for the formal handover of the bridge structures to the client which involved reviewing all the Work-as-Executed Drawings (WAEDs) and closing out defects which “while they are time-consuming, they are very important aspect of the project”.
Gabrielle said that the Seymour Whyte Graduate Program has really prepared her for the big world of engineering.
"I've had a strong mentor, a great team, a fantastic project manager and superb colleagues who have always supported me. I have learnt about procurement, quality assurance, safety management and engineering principles.
"Through the Graduate Program, I have had access to others within Seymour Whyte to listen to their stories and how they resolved their issues on similar projects – and that has helped me excel in my role and prepare me for the future in running day-to-day operations of a large company as a director.”
Gabrielle added: “The benefits have been getting to know how a site works, learning the language or engineers speak as well as receiving training that has really given me the confidence to perform.”
David Bicknell said that Gabrielle is “an exceptional engineer” and has “been highly commended by the client for her efforts in the project handover.”
The right people hired for the right reason
Seymour Whyte Training Manager, Rob Dando said the Graduate Program is designed to support and guide career learning for young people and outlines their career path in the industry.
"It also offers graduates the opportunity to learn life-long skills not only in the office but on the job through on-site placements on some of the most challenging projects in the country,” he said.
Rob added that although marks do matter for applicants, it takes more than just good grades to be offered a position.
“We’re looking for well-rounded individuals with diverse backgrounds and life experiences. Academics is one part, but we’re interested in their people skills, casual work history, and highly value customer service experience,” he said.
“Seymour Whyte provides a wide range of social, financial and health benefits as well as the opportunity to work around Australia with compelling clients, do fascinating work and have a fantastic career”.
“By providing them with new learning opportunities and career experiences we find that our grads want to stay for the long term,” Rob said.
With Seymour Whyte now being part of VINCI – a global player in concessions and construction – a career with us could get you what you want.