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Western Power

  • 1,000 - 50,000 employees

Lochie Burr

Tasks I enjoy are presentations, running workshops and gathering data.

What's your job about?

Western Power is a Western Australian State Government owned corporation. We connect Western Australians to a wide range of both traditional and renewable energy sources to power their lifestyles.

I work with the Procurement Excellence team, working on process improvement projects to help reduce bottlenecks for our subject matter experts working on contract negotiations.

A lot of companies are digitising the way they run their businesses and removing manual tasks where possible – Western Power is doing the same. Part of my daily work is as project lead / support to my team, reporting and gathering information on how we can become more efficient!

Personally, day-to-day my tasks are involved with interactions to understand the pain points felt by other internal teams around tasks that they must do manually.

Speaking to a teenager, I’d liken my role to helping a parent with a new piece of technology that will make their life easier. With any relationship it works well with great communication and flash presentations to get my point across. In these projects I’m given a ton of responsibility to execute them and I don’t spend my time in the printing room!

What's your background?

I spent my childhood in Sydney, before moving at age 11 to go live in Western Australia in a small regional town called Geraldton. I can tell you that it was a bit of shock but gave me the unique skillset I have today.

From 17 to 23 I’ve had such a crazy journey to my professional career. I didn’t pay too much attention at school and was more focused on sport and fitness. As I left school, I took a gap year and entered the fitness industry, but I realised that to give me the best chance at a successful career I should go into university in Perth.

I picked ECU to go to as they had a university prep course that would suit me and liked to give the ‘underdogs’ a go academically. Although I’m not academically minded, I realised that I had a gift in building relationships so during my three years at uni I volunteered for a bunch of not-for-profits (NFP) in Perth to network with Project Managers and other valuable connections.

This was what gave me my first internship at BHP Billiton (iron ore mining) and led to a 6-month internship in the end of my first year at uni. Subsequently after I finished, I was lucky enough to be given a 2-month internship at Telstra (Sydney-based) working over the winter break. I continued my NFP director roles as well as studying full time!

In my second year of my degree, learning from my experience in BHP, I was able to go overseas and study at Ocean University of China. I got to explore how china does business, learning such things as Guanxi (networking the Chinese way) and using chopsticks! I got such a rush I wanted to be back to Asia as soon as I got back to Australia.

From these experiences, I received an offer from ECU to be a New Colombo Plan Mobility Scholar. This took me to Singapore to finish my final semester at Nanyang Technological University (the #11 university in the world), as well as work with an Australian project management consultancy (three months) and learning Mandarin.  

I’m incredibly grateful that when I applied for a business graduate position here, Western Power looked at my potential and prior experience rather than GPA or Weighted Average Mark (WAM) like most companies do. They saw my unique skillset could be applied to a bunch of projects with a little work in preparation.

Could someone with a different background do your job?

YES!!! Everyone has the potential to do my job and become a future leader for any company.

What it requires is a good colour coded calendar, some elbow grease and the ability to critically think and give an honest insight into how things can be done differently.

Once you have a couple of notches on the belt (especially with well-known companies) the snowball gets rolling and people will pay attention to what your true ability is.

Be able to adapt in any situations, influence stakeholders and subscribe to business articles so you’re up-to-date on the latest and greatest tech ideas that companies want and need. University gives you only a slither of information about how to succeed in your career.

Invest in yourself and your personal brand and the skies the limit!

What's the coolest thing about your job?

What I love is that as a graduate, you have the time to build and strengthen relationships and are not time limited to 3-month internships.

Tasks I enjoy are presentations, running workshops and gathering data on projects. Millennials and Gen Zs are the first generations to enter a workforce where four generations work simultaneously together. Our knowledge of IT is often taken for granted by us. You’ll be surprised by the amount of knowledge we can bring to teams to help people think differently about how we analyse data. 

What are the limitations of your job?

I do bear responsibility of my projects, but overall however, I am not responsible for the outcomes (that is a requirement for the Senior Project Manager). As a graduate, my job is to soak in the atmosphere of the department where I’m based in and understand how the Commercial team operates its tenders and builds contracts for Western Power’s suppliers.

Having previously worked at a burger restaurant and a bottle shop on the weekends during my undergraduate studies, it’s quite a blessing to work Monday to Friday now! 

My limitations are in my understanding about how contracts, deeds and regulations work, but that’s changing. I did do a unit on business law but personally found it quite laborious and slow. Being in the middle of big contracts being prepared on the job is much more fun!

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

  1. In 2016, there were 1.48 million domestic and international student enrolments. The market now is saturated, so it makes finding a ‘professional’ entry level job difficult but not impossible to crack into, so use the time you have at university wisely with extracurricular activities! 
  2. Enjoy the semester breaks and holidays to catch up with loved ones, family and friends. Working full-time is - in another sense - full-time!
  3. Get up, work out and get some responsibility on those shoulders! Research has shown volunteering and working out is great for mental stimulation and will help you study more!

As always, if someone like me has come this far from not doing well in school, hopefully you can too!