Project manager

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Mark, 32

Mark works as a project manager for Industrial Conveying Australia, a company that makes belt conveyers and other processing equipment for the food manufacturing, mining and other industries. Find out more:

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Fact file

Job description: Mark leads a project team and is responsible for ensuring each contract is completed on time. He is responsible for all aspects of the project, from design, to development, to testing, to delivery of the final product.

Subjects studied: Year 11 (New Zealand), Metalwork, Technical Drawing, Physical Education, Maths, Science, English

Further training: 4 year Apprenticeship - Boilermaker

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Profile

Mark's career so far has seen him do it all - from a boilermaker to a project manager to installing conveying systems in Uzbekistan. No wonder he loves his job.

Growing up in New Zealand, Mark's father worked in manufacturing and, during school holidays, so did Mark. So it was no surprise that when the family moved too Australia when he was 17, Mark looked for a career in manufacturing.

He first took a job with Industrial Conveying Australia as a trade assistant, hoping to gain an apprenticeship as a boilermaker. Recognising his enthusiasm and experience, the company soon offered him his apprenticeship and four years later he was a certified boilermaker.

Mark has since progressed through the company and is now a project manager, overseeing production, and sometimes installation, of belt conveyers and other processing equipment for food processors, mining operations and other manufacturing industries all over the world. In fact, Mark has travelled to more than 20 different countries ? most of them for work.

As a project manager, Mark gets involved as soon as the contract is approved. He first discusses the project with a draughtsman and then approves the drawings they come up with. He then makes sure these are distributed and explained to departments within the company, such as purchasing and production. Once production is underway, Mark supervises the manufacturing process, right through to testing and delivery of the final product.

Sometimes, Mark is required to accompany the final product to the customer and work as a site manager, overseeing the installation of the system. Although this mostly involves travel to Melbourne or Sydney (he is based in regional Victoria), Mark has also had to oversee installations in countries such as Vietnam and Uzbekistan (twice!). Most of these overseas trips see Mark away from home for about two months, although he once spent 18 months supervising an installation in Kuala Lumpur.

Mark is currently working on an exciting recycling project. His company has designed a system for a customer that automatically sorts domestic recycling into plastic, cans and paper waste. This means the customer will be able to save money as most of the process is automated - they will only need manual labour to do the fine sorting.

Dealing with up to five projects at a time and with up to 40 people on a project team, Mark needs to carefully plan and prioritise his time. He also needs to attend meetings and do administration tasks. But although this sounds like a lot of work, Mark is incredibly enthusiastic about his job. "I love travelling and breaking down the communication barriers between people of different cultures. I also love completing a project and seeing the finished product in action. I can't complain about anything to do with my job."

Mark says that his biggest achievement so far has been moving through the company and into management. For the future, he says he would like to work on bigger projects and gain more experience. But after that, who knows? As he says: "You have such a great future with a trade and you can make a great living. You can branch into teaching, management, anything really."

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Job specs

Chemical engineers design and coordinate the construction and operation of manufacturing facilities and processes which convert raw materials into everyday products such as petrol, toothpaste, pharmaceuticals and plastics.

Duties:

Chemical engineers may perform the following tasks:

  • seek new and more efficient processes and materials, or improve or find new uses for existing materials
  • design methods and equipment to control and contain the processes that transform basic materials into useful products
  • make sure of the safe, efficient and environmentally friendly operation of equipment and test products at various stages of production to check the quality
  • design and build pilot plants to indicate how full-scale plants will operate when built
  • make plans and specifications for full-scale production plants, taking into account available technology, the cost and size of equipment and storage space, market needs, transport methods and disposal of surplus substances
  • review current methods of production for cost efficiency, environmental friendliness, maximum output and product quality
  • identify faults in the day-to-day operation of process plants (e.g. oil refining, steel making, water treatment) and take corrective action
  • prepare reports, feasibility studies and cost analyses of processes
  • provide product process information to sales and marketing personnel or customers
  • direct and coordinate the work of maintenance and construction tradespeople or process plant operators
  • provide advice on economical methods of converting raw materials.

Personal requirements:

  • enjoy technical and engineering work
  • willing to adhere to safety requirements
  • able to identify, analyse and solve problems
  • good communication skills
  • good at computing and design
  • practical and creative
  • able to work independently
  • able to accept responsibility

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Getting started

Engineers Australia (Victoria Division)
21 Bedford St North Melbourne, VIC 3051
Tel: (03) 9329 8188
Email: vic@engineersaustralia.org.au

The Institution of Chemical Engineers in Australia (National Office)
3/21 Vale St North Melbourne, VIC 3051
Tel: (03) 9329 3046
Email: members@icheme.org.au

Find out more about this career path at myfuture.edu.au (new window) (Note: free registration is required to access the myfuture site).

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