My name is Stephanie Raad and I am a Civil Engineer on Northwest Rapid Transit (NRT), stage one of Sydney Metro and Australia’s largest public transport project. I am the newest addition to the civil team at Bella Vista Station where I am involved in a range of civil disciplines including earthworks, underground services, roadworks, landscaping and civil structures.
The morning rush.
The 5.45 am alarm rings and I race to hit the snooze button, five minutes pass and the 5.50 am alarm rings, time to get up. I spend 20 minutes trying to make myself look presentable before quickly fixing my bed, running through the kitchen to grab my lunch and straight out the door. Fortunately, my drive to work is reasonably short, I jam to some of my favourite hits on my way.
Every morning the entire project team at Bella Vista, including sub-contractors meet for a brief meeting which we refer to as ‘Pre-start’. Typically, the supervisors will run through each work groups planned activities for the day, discuss what went well and not so well the day before, any safety concerns and any critical risks. I use this opportunity to familiarise myself with any changes onsite.
Coffee on the run.
Like clockwork, every morning at 7.00 am I line up at the site café for my caffeine hit. Whilst I devour each sip, I check my schedule for the day including meetings, inspections and deadlines.
Once I’ve had my caffeine hit it’s time to officially start my day. First thing I do is go for a walk onsite, this typically gives me an understanding of what the rest of my day will entail. On my way I stop for a quick chat with several work groups, including the drainage crew, street light crew, landscapers and earthworks crews. We usually discuss any issues or concerns and it gives me an opportunity to inspect their work.
Intimate whiteboard meeting.
Every morning the civil team gather for a brief meeting to discuss daily activities, available resources, weekly program and potential issues. This morning, it was my turn to chair the meeting. I often use this as an opportunity to further develop my skills in leadership and public speaking. Once the meeting is over I return to my desk and action any tasks which came about.
This morning we received confirmation that a paving package was awarded to a sub-contractor, this package was then allocated to me. This opportunity gives me a greater sense of responsibility and ownership. I spent most of the morning familiarizing myself with the relevant drawings and specifications which allows me to procure resources and carry out quality requirements.
By lunchtime, my stomach is singing and I am keen to refuel. My homemade lunches are typically inspired by healthy food blogs that entice my culinary skills. Today’s lunch consists of roast vegetables, beans, nuts and chicken served with a side of Greek yogurt. Taking a break is so important to me as it gives me a chance to unwind, catch up on my non-work related errands and increases my productivity in the afternoon.
Where has the day gone?
Lunchtime is over and I’m back at it, its 2pm and I am heading to site to witness a Benkelman Beam Test along with a Geotechnical Engineer, an independent certifier and a few supervisors. This test will determine the amount of deflection experienced by a pavement under a standard wheel load and tyre pressure. Clipboard in hand, my role is to witness the test and record results.
On my way back to the site office, I stop to chat with an earthworks crew to ensure they are working under an Excavation and Trenching Permit. The permit identifies any underground services within a work area and ensures the work crew are familiar with them. The permit is an administrative task to minimize the risk of damaging underground services or causing harm to the workers. Advocating safety is a key part of my role and one that I take very seriously.
I return to my desk to find dockets and tasks in my in-tray and several unread emails. I spend the next few hours completing my administrative tasks and before I know it, it is 6pm and my mind is starting to dwindle. Before my day can come to an end, it is important I confirm my inspections for the following day and check all outstanding tasks are complete, this ensures a fresh start to tomorrow morning. I collaborate with the rest of the team, write up my list of priorities for the next few days, and I am off.
Maintaining a work-life balance is really important to me, it allows me to maintain good mental health, be a more rounded individual and it can also improve my efficiency. After a long day, I put on my training gear, tie my laces and I head to the gym for some intense cardio and some lightweights. This allows me to put work behind me and carry on with life outside of the office. After my session I head home eager for a home cooked meal, a warm shower and a hot cup of tea ready to do it all over again tomorrow. Good night!