What's your job about?
CSL Behring is a manufacturer of plasma-derived medicines for rare diseases, and it’s my responsibility to design, construct, and commission new equipment and facilities.
As a project engineer, my job offers a wide variety of tasks depending on the type and stage of the project I’m working on. The project that I’m currently working on involves building a new facility and started by designing the equipment required to process human plasma into medicines. This included performing the calculations to determine the equipment design basis, reviewing and approving drawings and 3D models, and taking trips out to suppliers both local and international to inspect the equipment being constructed. As the project progresses, my role involves spending more and more time on-site to manage and coordinate the people involved in the construction and installation of the equipment and pipework in the new facility. After the installation is complete, I work with the manufacturing team to test the facility by running pumps, pressure testing vessels and trialling the automation to ensure that everything works safely.
What's your background?
I was born in Melbourne but moved to Texas, USA with my family when I was 5 years old. When I was 10 years old, we moved to Qatar for a couple of years before eventually coming back to Melbourne for my high school years.
How did you get to your current job position and for how long have you been doing it already?
I started with CSL Behring as a graduate engineer in 2016 as part of their inaugural graduate program. My first role was to assist in the testing of a recently upgraded facility but soon progressed on to managing my own smaller projects onsite. After a year, I rotated departments and began working under a new manager on a major capacity expansion project. As that project started to near completion at the end of 2017, my time in the graduate program was also concluding. Over that year, I had kept in regular contact with my former manager who I had worked with closely. I was eventually approached by him to see if I would be interested in being part of the next major project onsite. As this was an opportunity to be part of the largest project that our site has embarked on seen since its original construction, I jumped at the offer and have been involved ever since.
Like many teenagers, I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to pursue as a career when I finished high school. There were many areas such as research, medicine and engineering that I thought could be interesting. A big decision for me was to choose to study a double degree in both engineering and biomedical science as this provided me with flexibility and time to learn more about those fields before I had to decide a particular pathway. In the end, I came to love engineering and found a job that gives me great satisfaction every day. Not having the pressure to decide my career pathway out of high school and being able to explore my interests benefited me a lot and I encourage people who are unsure to look at double degrees as a way to keep your options open.
Could someone with a different background do your job?
As a project engineer, there are a wide range of roles and responsibilities that can suit different backgrounds. All engineering teams are built up from people with a wide range of experiences which allows us to draw on strong technical knowledge that we might be lacking. Besides technical knowledge, a large part of project engineering is having the ability to facilitate discussions, problem solve and to control timelines, budgets, resources, and suppliers. These are skills which are best developed in practice which means that most people would be able to pick up and learn on the job.
Problem-solving is a key skill that is required in this role as we are faced with new challenges each day. Some problems don’t have a clear root cause and the ability to sort between information which is critical and information which is irrelevant goes a long way to developing solutions. Another key skill is the ability to effectively communicate with others, which also ties into problem-solving. Key information is often obtained by knowing how to engage with stakeholders to get the answers you need. In addition, knowing how to succinctly present your opinions and solutions is critical to getting engagement and buy-in.
What's the coolest thing about your job?
The best part of my job is being able to see the physical results of my work. Spending months or years on designing a piece of equipment or facility can be long, stressful and tiring but being able to see something tangible being built from plans on paper and then getting to switch it on and watching it works as you had imagined in your head is one of the greatest thrills for an engineer in my opinion.
What are the limitations of your job?
Project work is demanding and large scale projects wait for no individual person because they cannot afford to lose time or blow out a budget. Therefore, if you fall behind it means that you sometimes have to work harder to get back on track or risk falling further. The stress of missing a deadline or finding mistakes in your design can also be mentally taxing and requires a strong will to persevere and stay focused on solving problems.
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