I joined the Urban Development team in Sydney as an Assistant Project Manager, with Scott Johnston as my manager. Over the next 12 months I managed the planning and environmental aspects of some rezoning projects, and a reservoir. While this was interesting and expanded my skills, I realised that being outdoors and onsite was where I was happiest. Coincidentally, there was a project in Queensland to match that description so we relocated to Brisbane and I joined the Alliance Verifier’s Team for the new Ipswich Motorway. It was one of APP’s first projects in Independent Assurance and as a Project Engineer I had to undertake design and documentation reviews, technical assistance and site surveillance.
Over the next few years I continued to work on Ipswich and later the very complex Brisbane Airport Link, while finding time to have two beautiful children! Then we relocated to the Gold Coast for 3 years, so I could join APP’s Independent Verification team for Stage 1 of the Gold Coast Light Rail project.
After a year in France I returned to APP in 2016, to work in the Independent Certifier’s team as a Senior Project Engineer and Construction Manager on the Sydney and Eastern Suburbs Light Rail.
Today, I’m back in Queensland and very excited to be working as a Senior Project Engineer on Brisbane’s $5.0B Cross River Rail. APP is the Independent Certifier and I’m excited to bring all my accumulated knowledge to this major transport infrastructure project. As a part-time diversion, since early 2018 I have also been providing support to APP’s first IC heavy rail rollingstock project with 75 trains being modified to improve their accessibility performance”.
In my 14 years with APP I’ve continued to improve my skills with every project, and particularly my stakeholder management skills! As you can imagine, every infrastructure project has its own stakeholders so I’ve learned how to manage relationships, particularly those with clients, with contractors, with subcontractors and the various publics. Our work requires us to be independent so it’s important to keep at arms-length where possible. However, the goal is to deliver the same project, so I try to maintain a “one team, one dream” approach.
Keeping in touch with clients past and current is important. We spend most of our time at work, so dealing with clients means we get to interact every day. More broadly, I also try to attend industry events like the annual Light Rail Conference, so that I can cross paths with industry at all levels. It’s important to be seen and make direct contact, and I also find LinkedIn useful.
Throughout the years I’ve been with APP I’ve had great managers and mentors such as Andrew Bennet and Scott Johnston. Andrew is always there for me, whether it’s work-related or not. Our infrastructure team is a close-knit group, mainly because of the nature of the work we do. We’ve all worked together for many years and the leaders of the business are like family.
I’ve appreciated the opportunities for networking that APP provides, such as the Sydney Spring Twilight events where I can invite my industry colleagues. Most recently, I’m thrilled that I’ve prepared, submitted and won my first bid for a major infrastructure project in SE Queensland!
Working flexibly has allowed me to pursue opportunities that might otherwise not have happened. For example, coming back to Australia in 2016 I joined the team on the Sydney Light Rail, even though my family was based on the Gold Coast. I agreed a solution with my manager and divided my time between the two destinations, which was tough but rewarding.
Each project I’ve worked on has been unique. Brisbane Airport Link was one of the biggest projects, so a massive team and highly complex. In comparison, Gold Coast Light Rail was technically less complex but had multiple stakeholders, so equally interesting. Sydney Light Rail was also very challenging, with the route going down Sydney’s main George Street. I had to manage the technical relationships with all the utilities involved, as well as the physical public relationships.
I like to think that with all these infrastructure projects, we are improving communities and making a difference on people’s lives. At the time, there is often the fear of change and on completion, the response is often much more positive. We saw it on the Gold Coast Light Rail project; today people love it!
- Daphne Becquet Gonzales, Project Director