My first of two alarms goes off at 6.30 am, I turn it off as always and go back to sleep for the five minutes before my 6.35 am alarm goes off - I’ve somehow convinced myself that this is different from snoozing my alarm and obviously less lazy. After the second alarm I’m out of bed, getting dressed into gym clothes, eating breakfast, grabbing my things and giving the dogs a pat before I’m out the door at 7.00 am. I wave to one of my housemates as she gets home from the night shift at the hospital.
When my company relocated me from Adelaide to Sydney for 12 months, one of my main criteria when looking for a place to live was that it was walking distance to the office. I lucked out and found a beautiful place a nice 30-minute stroll from the office. I set off for the day, listening to whatever Spotify has added to my weekly Release Radar playlist.
When I make it to the office, I head to the End of Trip (EOT) facilities where I shower and get ready for my day. Having showers and lockers on site gives me the flexibility I like to get ready at home or at work.
I make my way up to level 28 where the rail team is based. We are an agile office meaning we clear our desks at the end of every day. I have a love-hate relationship with the agile setup, as I’m a creature of habit, but I also love the ability to sit and chat with different people each day. As one of the first people in, I grab my stuff from my locker and set up at my favourite desk right in the middle of the rail team area. As we have the option of choosing our hours each day, there a few people around the office who have been in since 7.00 am. I say my hellos on my way to grab my first of many cups of tea for the day and am warned by a colleague that there’s an interesting email waiting for me.
Checking my emails and calendar I am not disappointed by the interesting email I was promised. I am currently working on two projects, one based in Auckland, NZ and the other here in Sydney. Due to the time difference between Sydney and Auckland I often have a number of emails that need attention first thing each morning. I have received an email from my PM on the NZ project asking for one of my architecture diagrams to be updated and circulated in time for a meeting with the client that afternoon. This is a massive task, so I have to quickly rearrange my plans for the day to ensure I can get it out before lunch. Luckily, I have a lot of flexibility between my projects that I can make this happen easily and it doesn’t disrupt my day too much.
I make a quick phone call to confirm the details of what is required for the client meeting that afternoon in NZ and then get cracking with the updates. I have created a staging diagram that outlines the construction and installation activities we are designing on an existing rail line in Auckland. The aim of the document is to detail the different operational configurations available to the client over the next 4+ years as well as to ensure our design is aligned internally. This requires a great deal of input from the different disciplines involved, including track, civils, signalling, overhear wiring, traction power, and the constructability team. I spend about an hour making phone calls and confirming changes with the designers from each discipline. There are a few discrepancies that I have to get to the bottom of and iron out. I’ve built a good relationship with the design team which helps to ensure that at times like this they are more than happy to help in any way they can. I’ve found that developing these relationships is essential as without them I wouldn’t be able to have such short turn arounds on my tasks when required to.
After confirming all of the required changes, I am able to quickly update the diagram as I have used Visio Professional and only need to edit the data behind my diagram as the drawing automatically updates itself. I PDF the final version and send it to the required people just in time for my 10.15 am coffee meeting in the kitchen area on level 27.
Down on level 27, I grab a coffee from the machine and sit down with one of the Pathways leads in Sydney. Pathways is our internal organisation for young professionals, and am a part of the committee this year. Today we are discussing some possible social responsibility initiatives that we could support and promote internally. This is a big interest of mine and I love that we have the company’s backing to run events and support programs that aim to improve the society that we live in. I have put together a list of opportunities and we are discussing the feasibility of getting involved in each.
Following my coffee meeting, I give the NZ PM a call to ensure he has everything he needs from me. He’s happy with the document I sent through and has printed it ready for the meeting. He asks if I can be in Auckland in 2 weeks' time to attend a few client meetings and continue to progress the work I am responsible for. I have agreed with the NZ project that I am available to be in Auckland in the project office one week each month, so am more than happy to book on the trip as requested. After the phone call, I contact my immediate Systems Engineering team working on the NZ project and let them know of my travel plans, as we usually try to align our trips to NZ so that we can have a collaborative and aligned approach. As my team is spread across different states in Australia, it is also a good opportunity to share knowledge and lessons learned with each other when we cross paths. I send off the travel request and head to grab another cup of tea to bring back to my desk.
I can now return to my planned activities for the day. At this stage that includes continuing another of my tasks for the NZ project. I have been given the responsibility of creating and managing the Work Breakdown Structure for our scope of works with the intention of detailing the split between our work and that of suppliers we will engage. I have received a number of updates and have identified a few key issues that I need to raise and resolve. I send out a few emails and book in some meetings to address these issues later in the week.
Heading back to the kitchen, I meet some mates from a range of different teams for lunch. We usually utilise Skype for business to send out a quick group chat organising what time we will have lunch. As a big fan of meal prepping, I have my lunch packed from home, but a few others have their favourite lunches from the local restaurants and cafes that they bring back up into the office. We usually avoid work chat at lunch and instead catch up on each other’s weekends. Our lunch group grows and changes almost daily and includes people from across all of the business groups. I particularly enjoy having lunch in the kitchen because it gives you the opportunity to meet new people who you may not actually work with on a day-to-day basis.
On my way back up to level 28, I grab another cup of tea to drink while I prepare for an upcoming meeting. I am assisting the bid team to put together a bid for an upcoming project that requires some input from my team. This is the first time I have been involved in working on a bid, and I’m super interested in contributing to the strategy and planning from the Systems Engineering and Integration perspective.
The bid meeting is incredibly interesting, there is a lot of discussion around lessons learned on previous projects as well how the work I, and the rest of the Systems Engineering team, do can benefit the client in ways they may not be aware of yet. I present some work I have done on other projects that we may be able to market to the client as an opportunity to strengthen our delivery process. I focus on our processes and tools that our company and team have developed internationally and how we can tailor these to suit our client directly. This meeting includes some of our top project managers, team executives and subject matter experts. It is a new opportunity for me to display my own skills and progress as well as continue to promote my teams’ work to the wider rail team. Overall it is a very successful meeting and there are a lot of actions that come out of it for me to chase up and deliver over the next few weeks.
Following my meeting, I finally get around to spending some solid time on my Sydney-based project. We are currently acting as the technical advisor at the concept phase of this project. As the client’s office is upstairs, I grab the new graduate who has just joined my team and is going to be helping me out, and we head upstairs. I really enjoy my client-based work, so I make a big effort to be present and integrated within their team. After introducing our new grad to the client’s team, we get set up and I dig into my to-do list. I sit down with the client’s lead systems engineer and we run through the changes I have proposed to their DOORS setup and discuss the benefits and downfalls until we are satisfied that our new approach is the most beneficial to the project without being an overwhelming amount of additional effort.
Knowing I have a weekly client meeting tomorrow for my Sydney-based project, I update the program and progress report and review the agenda. I don’t expect any big issues and am pleased that we are still well on target to achieve our deadlines and deliver our work on schedule and to the high standard that we expect of ourselves.
And that’s me done for the day! I say my goodbyes and head back down to the EOT facilities. Back into my gym clothes and I’m off. I call my mum back in Adelaide on my walk home, it's always nice to just catch up quickly whilst also being outside in the fresh air after a day of work. I make a habit of going to the gym on my walk home 4 nights each week and today is no different. I hang up from mum, chuck a podcast on and start today’s program. I love the flexibility of my work hours that means I can be at the gym before the post-work rush that comes from the 9-5 crowd.
After a quick stretch to cool down, I continue my walk home, having texted my housemates to let them know I am on my way. This may be my favourite time of each day – 2 of my housemates meet me at the park at the end of our block with both the dogs and we just hang out throwing the ball and catching up on each other’s days (and/or nights depending on their shifts). If it’s a nice day we let the dogs into the water, too! I highly recommend getting housemates who have dogs, all of the fun with none of the responsibility!
Heading home, I jump in the shower and start putting my things together for tomorrow’s workday. One of my housemates offered to cook for us all tonight, so we’re having a house favourite – Thai red curry! We like to rotate who cooks as we all have different schedules and it works well for us.
Following dinner, I put the kettle on again and make cups of tea for everyone to have with the banana bread I had baked on the weekend. We sit on the couch with the TV on in the background while we chat and play cards. We are overly competitive but not at all serious which means that we always have fun regardless of who wins.
I give the dogs one last cuddle, say goodnight to my housemates and head upstairs to bed ready to do it all again tomorrow!