People, program & culture | 26 September 2022

Rich with opportunities: Life as a Construction Engineer at Millar Merrigan

Xavier started with us as an intern seven years ago while studying engineering and commerce at Monash University. Quickly finding his home in the construction department, Xavier worked part time throughout his degree before joining the team full time one year later.

Since then, Xavier has advanced and diversified his skillset immensely and is now embracing a hybrid role: part Construction Engineer, part Project Manager. The opportunity to sample and combine different professions is a defining asset of Millar Merrigan, according to Xavier, along with opportunities to build skills and knowledge to ultimately design your career.

A career bursting with connections

The interactions with people – both from within and outside Millar Merrigan – ignited Xavier’s affinity for construction engineering.

“From the start I enjoyed meeting different people – going onsite to speak with clients, authorities, and contractors. I love that a typical day is out and about, instead of behind the desk in an office. I’ve had the opportunity to see the whole state… to do work, everywhere.”

For Xavier, one of the best parts of working at Millar Merrigan is the people you meet along the way.

“I’ve built solid relationships with numerous clients and contractors – to the point where I’d call them friends. It makes all the difference when you enjoy the people you work with; it makes every day that much better.”

Xavier’s experience in construction engineering highlights an important point: this career is ideal for more outgoing, extroverted types – people who are easy-going but also confident and assertive.

Using the professional to advance the personal

While professional development is common at most workplaces, typically, this is confined to the parameters of one’s career. But at Millar Merrigan, education is expansive, ongoing, and applicable to one’s personal life, too.

“Millar Merrigan educates its staff on personal finance management. We often have financial advisors and accountants come in.

Today, just before lunch, we had someone present on how to best manage our super funds,” shares Xavier.

“I’ve used what I do day-to-day to help build my personal wealth. That’s opposed to just working for a wage, where what you learn is only applicable to your job.”

Xavier and others at Millar Merrigan have had been able to learn about and expand their personal wealth creation strategies through investment opportunities in development projects.

A day in the life of a Construction Engineer

Wearing multiple hats is just part of Xavier’s job. While no two days are the same, typically, his weeks involve receiving plans from the design department, creating detailed scopes, liaising with contractors, creating detailed spreadsheets, organising meetings, and coordinating plans with different consultants.

“Our first task is to collate plans into a detailed scope,” says Xavier, “We then take this document to multiple contractors who price the job. We evaluate these various prices with a fine-tooth comb and then present this summarised data to our client, who decides on their preferred contractor.”

Once the contract is awarded, Xavier shifts into relationship management.

“We organise meetings between our client and the relevant bodies. This includes the contractor, councils, authorities and consultants. Once we’re in construction, we liaise with the client and authorities to make sure everything runs smoothly.”

Mediation is another part of Xavier’s weeks – a process that any budding construction engineer must be comfortable navigating.

“With any people-oriented job comes an element of expectation management. And sometimes, this involves managing conflicting expectations, particularly around money and timeframes. It’s not all smooth sailing; you need to have thick skin,” Xavier acknowledges.

It’s this diversity of responsibilities and mindsets that Xavier must embrace – in any given week – that makes his career stimulating and deeply rewarding.

Xavier’s advice for interested graduates

“Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and ask a team member out for coffee,” Xavier insists.

Civil engineering is a broad umbrella, with engineers doing many different things. That’s why exploring and understanding the different paths within engineering is crucial. Only through this process will you find out what resonates with you. Acquiring an understanding of the day-to-day reality and the required and desired attributes for the different specialties is essential.

“You’d be surprised by how willing our team is to talk to fresh graduates,” says Xavier, “I know it can be intimidating. But don’t be afraid to connect. We love getting phone calls from graduates who want to learn more.”

But how should you best use that precious time when you make it to that coffee?

Questions are the answer. Ask the engineer about the pros and challenges of their job, the possibilities of career progression, and what has surprised them about their chosen field. Through intentional conversations with appropriate professionals, conducting dedicated research, and experiencing the industry for yourself, graduates will be on the path to finding the career that suits them.

If you’re excited by the possibilities of a future at Millar Merrigan, give us a ring at (03) 5134 8611. We’re always looking for motivated and talented engineering graduates.


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