A Sustainability Graduate with CPB Contractors, Lachlan Maclean was recently named the CIMIC Group’s Functional Graduate of the Year. Having completed the two-year graduate program, Lachlan took some time out from his work on a major project in Victoria to talk about his career with CPB Contractors.
How did you find out about the CIMIC Group’s Graduate Program?
I was studying for a science degree at Monash University, majoring in geographical and earth sciences, and I started to think about whether to do honours or to look for a job.
I found the CIMIC Graduate Program through a Google search and particularly liked the big projects that CPB Contractors works on. Another factor was that I live near one of the level crossings in Melbourne that CPB Contractors removed, knew that project well, and had been living with the benefits.
I thought with sustainability in the construction sector, it was an opportunity to put two things together – build a positive legacy for Melbourne and at the same time use my passion, which is environmental science, to do so sustainably.
What is it like to move from being a student at university to working on a big infrastructure project?
I think a lot of the skills are the same. Managing deadlines and competing priorities, working in teams, focusing on particular tasks - I found the skills you acquire doing a degree transfer directly to work.
It is a different lifestyle, with longer days, but in terms of the skills needed to succeed, I think they are quite similar.
What sort of things did you learn through the graduate program?
I had no background in construction, so I learnt a lot of technical stuff, but I also learnt the importance of being mindful of other people.
I know to be clear about what you are dealing with, to be mindful of another person’s outlook, and what their priorities are going to be.
Being part of a network with other grads is also positive. We stay in touch and share experiences. My advice to anyone who joins the grad program is don’t go through it alone.
There are 200 other people in the program, and every one of them will have a different experience and something to offer. Tapping into a range of experiences makes everything easier.
Have you got any advice for people who are at university and looking to start their careers?
Get involved in an extra-curricular activity. I did some volunteering for the Australian Conservation Foundation and through this learnt what it is like to work in an office, the importance of delivering on your commitments to your colleagues and having clear priorities.
Do something outside your degree, as the skills you learn by being part of something are useful when you start working.
What is the best thing about your current role?
The people. Everyone at CPB Contractors has been happy to show me the ropes and it has been a welcoming and supportive environment, with a lot of knowledge being shared. Even if it is a bit of a tough day, you can meet the challenge through teamwork.
What was it like to complete the grad program during the covid pandemic?
I had one month of normality before covid hit and turned everything upside down. It was a challenge for everyone, but we made it work. My manager organised a regular catch-up to ensure I was on track and that the human side of joining a company wasn’t lost.
The graduate intake that survived covid will definitely be resilient – we can handle anything!