Updating Results

Peter McIntosh

Get some industry exposure; without it, you’re doing yourself a disservice and putting yourself at a massive disadvantage when you try and enter the job market. You’ll find that industry experience alongside your studies will also make your coursework easier.

What's your job about?

North Construction is a commercial builder working in the commercial, education, health and infrastructure sectors. As a Contracts Administrator, my primary areas of responsibility are budget management and procurement. 

As a Contracts Administrator, key tasks throughout an average week are:

  • Budget forecasting for live construction projects,
  • Procurement for live projects, including the following:
    • Preparation of Scope of Works documents and tender packages,
    • Assessment of subcontractor pricing for trade packages.
    • Preparation of subcontracts for engagement of trades.
  • Assessment and processing of subcontractor progress claims and supplier invoices,  
  • Preparation of Head Contract Progress Claims

Let’s break down a few key tasks throughout an average week that are mentioned above and explain a little about each one:

  1. Budget forecasting for live construction projects,
    • This involves identifying risks to the project and what those risks are likely to cost. There are three ways to identify risks to the project budget; we can use equipment hire for two of the examples,
      • Speak to the Project Manager and Site Manager about additional equipment that may need to be hired in order to complete a task.
      • Walk the site and identify if equipment needs to be kept on hire longer than originally forecast.
      • Assess and respond to subcontractor delay or variation claims.
    • Preparing cash flow forecasts for the project.
  2. Procurement for live projects, including the following:
    • Preparation of Scope of Works documents and tender packages,
      • This involves reviewing all project drawings, specifications, schedules and reports and then the written communication of this information in a central scope document for subcontractors to price the trade works.
    • Assessment of subcontractor pricing for trade packages.
      • This involves comparing subcontractor quotes, understanding all clarifications and exclusions noted in subcontractor quotes and holding tender meetings with subcontractors.
  3. Assessment and processing of subcontractor and supplier invoices and progress claims, 
    • This involves ensuring that the value of work claimed in subcontractor progress claims is aligned with the value of works completed on site. This assessment process requires communication with the project team and physically sighting the works to ensure they have been completed without defect and in accordance with the project documents.

What's your background?

I grew up on the South Coast in Kiama. After I finished my HSC, I took a gap year and studied Theology; I then studied behavioural and social science at un for 3 years before commencing my construction management degree. These courses helped me develop many of the soft skills that I still use in my role today. 

During my first year of construction management at uni in 2014, North Construction offered a 10 week scholarship which I was successful in applying for. After my initial first phase of 10 weeks with North, I was then offered a Cadetship with North which I completed in 2017. I have now been a Contracts Administrator for 4 years.

Could someone with a different background do your job?

Yes. Central to my role on the Project Management team are communication and organisational skills. 

Construction management professionals need to be highly organised in a fast paced industry and also have strong communication skills in an industry that is well known for disagreements. More often than not, issues with clients, subcontractors, suppliers and consultants are avoided when processes are managed well by project managers who are both organised and effective communicators.

People with the ability to master these skills will find it easy to learn and develop their confidence in the construction industry.

What's the coolest thing about your job?

My job involves a high level of collaboration with a variety of stakeholders, the management of large amounts of money and the investment of a significant amount of time from people all focussed on achieving the same thing; seeing the completed building as an end result is a culmination of all three of these things, which is very satisfying.

A moment that shows that the collaboration process is working is often found in valuable meetings, whether it’s with subcontractors or clients, consultants or the internal team – a meeting that has high levels of participation, a clear set of goals and a decent list of action items as a result is often a sign of a good day.

What are the limitations of your job?

Construction management can be complex and involves many different stakeholders with sometimes varying motivations in achieving the same goal; that being the finished building. One of the biggest responsibilities is the need to juggle many different tasks at any one time and ensure that all of the stakeholders are pulling the project in the same direction.

Work does follow you home in this industry, with email and phone calls after hours and on weekends a fairly standard fixture for some projects. Every project is different and has different needs. There are some projects may not require working on weekends or long hours – whereas the more challenging projects do. A key to managing the demands of the job is to manage your own workload and set up healthy communication frameworks that work for you and the wider team.

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

  • Use your time at uni to network, get to know your peers and teachers. Many of the people you meet at uni will enter the industry at the same time you do; you’ll likely find your paths crossing on different projects throughout your career. These connections matter. 
  • Take advantage of the resources that the uni is providing to you – after all, you’re paying for them. Go to industry meet & greets, site tours for landmark projects and industry keynote presentations. All of this will provide you with a well-rounded uni experience. 
  • Get some industry exposure; without it, you’re doing yourself a disservice and putting yourself at a massive disadvantage when you try and enter the job market. You’ll find that industry experience alongside your studies will also make your coursework easier.