What's your name and job title?
Kodi Carter – Trainee area operations manager for Victoria Concrete.
What did you study? When did you graduate?
A Bachelor of Engineering (Chemical Engineering), Bachelor of Science (Extractive Metallurgy) at Curtin University, with time spent at the Western Australian School of Mines, Kalgoorlie in 2014 for the extractive metallurgy degree. I completed the course in 2016.
Where did you grow up?
Fremantle, Western Australian.
Where did you go to school? Did you hold any other jobs prior to your current employment?
High school: Seton Catholic College.
Casual work: Retail assistant at Merchants of Swanbourne, WA.
University work experience: Cockburn Cement, WA (cement milling and quicklime manufacture).
How did you get to your current job position?
I started with Holcim Australia through their graduate program at the start of 2017. The program is a two-year rotational program designed to give graduates hands-on experience especially in the operational space of the three Holcim divisions. The program is split into three eight-month rotations.
I began the Holcim Graduate Program in Perth at the start of 2017 working within the Aggregates division in the Planning and Environment team. I spent most of my time at the Gosnell’s quarry (WA’s largest granite quarry located in the Perth metropolitan area) gaining thorough experience relating to load and haul, crushing and screening, drill and blast and dispatch and sales.
As part of the graduate program, it is a requirement to relocate interstate at least once. As a result, in October 2017 I relocated to Victoria to work in the Concrete division. I was based in the south east of Melbourne reporting to an area operations manager who was responsible for five concrete batch plants. I also assisted a project manager with a wind farm project located in rural Victoria. I was in this role for eight months until May 2018.
I then moved to the Humes division (concrete pipes and precast products) of Holcim located in Laverton, Victoria. In this role I was reporting to the operations manager and was involved in multiple improvement projects relating to vehicle and pedestrian separation in addition to assisting a project manager with a capital expenditure project.
After approximately four months at Humes, I was asked to help a different project manager with another two wind farm projects in rural Victoria. It was during this time that I was offered my current permanent role as trainee area operations manager in the Victorian Concrete division.
What does your employer do?
Holcim Australia is a leading supplier of aggregates, readymix concrete and concrete pipes and products (also known as Humes). They are located nationally and have more than 250 concrete plants, 65 quarry operations and 12 precast concrete factories (Humes). Holcim Australia is part of the global multinational LafargeHolcim group.
What are your areas of responsibility?
In my current role as trainee area operations manager for Concrete, I have assisted a project manager with two wind farms located near Ballarat. The responsibilities include strong people management in relation to supporting Holcim production supervisors and agitator drivers; having a strong customer focus ensuring Holcim provides adequate service; developing reports that discuss production, quality and safety issues; and adhering to strict safety requirements and protocols on site.
In the Melbourne part of the business, I will be managing three concrete plants in the north region. The main responsibilities will include people management, stock control/management, contractor management and managing repairs and maintenance.
Can you describe a typical work day?
A typical work day in Concrete varies from day to day as it is a very reactive business due to the nature of the work. Generally no two days are the same. There are typically a lot of meetings throughout the week with the management and operational teams in addition to dealing with operational issues on site on a daily basis.
Other issues that may arise throughout the day include managing agitator truck drivers, service issues and site personnel..
Suppose a student was considering your career. What would you advise them to study? Are there any soft skills they should develop? Should they pursue any sort of work experience?
I would advise a student to study civil engineering as the course has a large focus on concrete in addition to reinforcement and precast concrete design. However, I personally think as long as you gain some operational work experience in a related field during your study, then you should have a general understanding of how the business runs.
I had work experience at a cement manufacturing plant in Western Australia during my studies, which gave me exposure to firstly the cement and construction industries but also the mechanical make up of plants such as conveyor belts and air slides, for example. These are very common in most Holcim businesses.
What sort of person succeeds in your career?
I think a person with the following traits would definitely succeed in this career:
What do you love the most about your job? Which kind of task do you enjoy the most?
I love the networking side of the job with Holcim. From the very beginning, I have met so many people both within and external to the company who are in a wide range of roles around the country. Everyone is extremely knowledgeable and willing to share their learnings.
I also love the diversity of the role. As Holcim is trying to expand their business, I have been lucky enough to be involved in a range of mobile projects in remote parts of Victoria. Through this exposure, I have developed additional skills relating to project management that are very transferable. Like previously mentioned, no two days are the same at Holcim, which I personally think is great as it keeps you on your toes with new challenges to face.
What’s the biggest limitation of your job? Do you bear a lot of responsibility?
Currently, the biggest limitation of my role is experience. Working within the construction industry you are working alongside people with sometimes 30 years experience (or more) and in comparison, I have come into this role directly following the graduate program and university.
However in saying this, everyone is more than happy to share their knowledge if you are naturally curious, ask questions and are willing to learn.
The role I am in does bear quite a lot of responsibility as any issue relating to my plant’s operation, site personnel, drivers, concrete quality, supply issues or customer complaints relates to my role.
What would your career be if you weren’t doing what you’re doing now?
If I wasn’t doing what I am doing now, I would probably be working in the mining industry in Western Australia.
Which three pieces of advice would you give to a current university student?