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Holcim Australia and New Zealand

  • > 100,000 employees

Ben Stefanovic

Make sure you trial working in different roles during your studies to gauge what’s right for you.

What's your job about?

Holcim Australia and New Zealand is a leading supplier of aggregates, concrete, precast, and cement, we operate out of 150 concrete plants, 65 quarries, and 12 precast concrete factories in Australia, and 18 sites in New Zealand.

In my current rotation based in Auckland, I’m responsible for operations of Holcim’s largest cement depot in New Zealand. Annually, the site-packages 25,000 tonnes of 20kg, 25kg, and 40kg bagged cement for stores and distribution around the upper North Island and has the ability to produce custom blends of cement at the customer's request. On a daily basis, I ensure our operation remains efficient by keeping production downtime to a minimum as well as ensuring the safety of all of my team on site.

My main responsibilities are managing staff and contractors, running daily pre-start meetings, overseeing production, managing R&M with our maintenance engineer, purchasing, approving timesheets, staff training, managing the site safety schedule, and attending to any production, quality, or safety issues.

The most rewarding moment for me so far was overseeing the smooth operation of a week long-planned plant shutdown period in June 2019. I had spent the good part of a month planning with our maintenance engineer and national maintenance planner where we had each worker assigned to a specific role during the week. We managed to fully overhaul the back end of the plant and safely carried out a confined space entry into one of the cement hoppers on site. It was really satisfying to see our planning come to fruition, resulting in no incidents over the week.

What's your background?

I grew up in Geelong, Victoria and attended The Geelong College for high school where I worked weekends in retail and committed to weekend sports. During school I studied predominantly maths and science-based units, accelerating in VCE from year 10.  

Following on from there, I attended Monash University to study a Commerce and Engineering double degree, majoring in finance and civil engineering. During these years I continued my work in retail and took up other opportunities, such as working with the City of Greater Geelong over summer as an engineering intern and managing projects for Harris Scarfe.

In my penultimate year, I attained a part-time position working with Humes, Holcim’s precast business unit, where I applied my civil engineering degree working as an estimator, and started to learn the ins and outs of Holcim. It really opened my perspective when starting to apply for graduate programs, as Holcim wasn’t originally high on my list of programs to apply for.  
In March 2019 I packed up my things in Melbourne and relocated to Auckland for a 6-month rotation within the cement business. Since March, I’ve had the opportunity to travel around New Zealand, I’ve met with senior leaders of the LafargeHolcim global network, and I’ve been asked to stay in NZ to lead an operational site based in Auckland

Could someone with a different background do your job?

Yes, Holcim’s graduate program offers you the ability to work within a number of business units across Australia, whether it’s within a quarry, to a concrete plant, or within the corporate space. The main characteristics of what I do is to think dynamically, methodically, and efficiently to deal with operational issues when they occur, and to ensure consistent and safe production. If you’re great at thinking on your feet, have an eye for detail and safety running through your veins, then the role is not limited to those with a civil engineering background.

What's the coolest thing about your job?

The best part about my specific role in Holcim’s graduate program is that I’ve been given responsibilities usually reserved for site managers or supervisors, such as hiring temporary workers, making decisions on plant upgrades, and leading pre-start meetings. I was hesitant at first, however leading the pre-start meetings on site has really helped with my development toward becoming a manager. Between March 2019 and January 2020, I’ve experienced a great positive change in the mindset, attitude, and openness of our workers on-site, and it’s moments such as these that enforce we’re all moving in the right direction.

What are the limitations of your job?

In my current role, I’m generally limited by my experience and operational/industrial knowledge. I’m surrounded by a team that has vastly more experience and knowledge than I do, however, everyone is more than happy to share their knowledge and help you along the way.

There are no physical limitations for my job, and I’m no stranger when it comes to a site walk to talk with our operational staff. On occasion, I may even jump on the forklift or machine to assist my team with safely carrying out production.

3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...

1. Make sure you trial working in different roles during your studies to gauge what’s right for you. I found I didn’t enjoy the corporate space and opted for a role that gives me the opportunity to be outdoors.

2. Take the opportunity to backpack during breaks at university. Taking an extended break in a full-time role whilst you’re focusing on your career can be a little difficult.

3. Don’t think that the course you choose to study will lock you into a specific career or role, I never would have imagined I would end up working in NZ or getting the opportunity to lead a team this early on in my career.