In May 1987, I was stationed in Fiji on my first overseas project, supervising the Australian Aid-funded reconstruction of school buildings after cyclones.
I worked on various tunnel and dam design projects in the design office, and one that particularly stands out was the Yonki Dam in Papua New Guinea (PNG). The seismic potential in PNG is the same as the San Andreas Fault. And our challenge was to design a 60m high outlet tower to stand up to that, as well as a zoned earthfill dam in soft tropical soil conditions. It was fascinating work.
In May 1987, I was stationed in Fiji on my first overseas project, supervising the Australian Aid-funded reconstruction of school buildings after cyclones. I spent two months travelling around the country including to remote island communities, sometime sleeping on clay floors in village huts, and even experiencing a live coup.
Other overseas stints soon followed at Papua New Guinea, Botswana, Indonesia and Malaysia. It was a rare privilege to be involved with construction supervision on the Yonki Dam project, following on from the design I had done some months earlier. I switched from the Dams to Roads team and spent time in far flung areas such as Irian Jaya, Maluku and Central Sulawesi in Indonesia. My wife and I went to Pergau Hydro Project in the jungles of Malaysia when our first daughter was only six weeks old. Luckily, we had a great expat community and lots of support from the Kuala Lumpur office as well as head office in Cooma, Australia.
Soon after I spent a year at a small geotech firm in Wollongong, New South Wales, where my second daughter was born. But the pull of SMEC was too strong! I landed back in my birth state, at the SMEC office in Brisbane in August 1996, where I’ve been ever since. We soon won some major design and contract administration roles on the Pacific Motorway project between Logan and the Gold Coast. That really put SMEC on the map in Queensland and since then we have only grown stronger and more diverse.
Much has changed within the culture and reach at SMEC since I started as an 18-year-old cadet. Our people now hail from countries all over the world, not just Europe. But the one constant has been the sense of challenge and opportunity. I have always found there to be a relatively flat management structure, where I have been able to access senior management easily and efficiently to support me in my role. I have also been privileged to work alongside some outstanding talent. We continue to secure marquis projects that challenge us to deliver excellent results, often in difficult environments. I am currently working as Contract Administrator on the Ipswich Motorway Upgrade (Rocklea to Darra), based full time on site. This is a major Design & Construction project to upgrade one of the busiest motorways in Queensland, Australia. The sense of professional satisfaction gained from successful outcomes has always been a strong driver for me. I’m also excited to see more females entering engineering, especially in the construction area. They provide a balance of thought and insight into the work which only strengthens the output of the team.
SMEC Senior Programmer Mobina Zafar was named Young Female Professional of the Year at the Surbana Jurong (SJ) International Awards held in Brisbane, Australia in December 2018.
A s consultants, we are always trying to help our clients achieve a great outcome on their project. In a competitive market we aim to deliver great outcomes at a competitive cost. To achieve this, we constantly need to increase productivity and find innovative technical solutions.
Elliot Hannan leads SMEC’s Dams and Hydropower business in Australia and is currently the Project Director for the SMEC Planning and Development Services team working with WaterNSW to deliver the Dungowan Dam and Mole River Dam projects in Northern New South Wales.