Learning and development: the key to Ian’s long career with UGL

May 05, 2023
  • Diversity and inclusion
  • People and community

Ian will be celebrating a career service milestone this year as he has been with the business for 55 years.

Ian started in 1969 as an apprentice with Kilpatrick Green until 1999 when UGL acquired the company. During his early years, he worked as an electrical tradesman, leading hand and foreman on projects in various places around Queensland and New South Wales. Ian’s talent and dedication were recognised by his manager as a potential estimator which helped shape his future career path.

“After my training as a junior estimator I moved up through the ranks and eventually into management. In those days our roles were very diverse as we did electrical and mechanical projects. One day it would be a substation, the next a process plant which was good experience.”

Ian became a specialist estimator for building sub stations and transmission lines as his client focus is utilities. This has helped him gain respect within the industry. His role involves large projects that involve a collaborative effort and can take up to nine months to bid.

What has kept you engaged to stay with UGL all these years?

“I was always learning, and that is so important in life. While I was at the trade level, I had never built a substation. I worked on process plants, refineries, sewage treatment plants, but never a substation. My expertise has been picked up in visiting sites, chatting with the team on site, understanding how it all fits together. Understanding the technical side as well, getting that experience from project engineers, that is where I have drawn all my knowledge from.”


Have you witnessed any big changes?

“We didn’t get computers until the late 70’s, before then it was all pencil, paper and your head to calculate. Our first computer we had to program it ourselves with price breakups for our projects. This advanced to estimating software where you had to key everything in. You couldn’t click on a window to formulate it for you. You had to remember the keystrokes to make it work!”


Have you been mentored in the business or been a mentor for others?

“My previous manager from Kilpatrick Green, was a supportive mentor to me as he was a very experienced estimator. I try to be a mentor to our group of estimators; I am always open to all their questions and point them in the right direction. I also find the team that work at actual sub stations are great for experience as I rely on them for their knowledge. Being transparent and collaborative when you are bouncing ideas around with colleagues is key to building a great crew.”

Ian is the best, not because of his incredible knowledge of his trade, but because of his unfailing generosity to share that knowledge, and with anyone who cares enough to learn. Ian is my go-to for anything I need to know related to substation technology, why a particular conductor is selected, and how to get your orchids flowering better,” Julianne Loveday, Senior Bid Manager.


What advice would you give someone starting their career at UGL?

“Good advice is to hang in there, stay with a company long enough to grow and learn. While it might be tempting to jump from job to job in search of the perfect role, the reality is that stability is the key to success. By staying with a company for a longer period of time, you have the opportunity to build relationships, gain experience, and learn new skills that can help you advance in your career.

I have enjoyed my journey as I have learned a lot along the way. I have always been happy in my role.”

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