Malcolm and the Australian Infrastructure Boom


opinion, skilled migrants,


Have you read “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell?

If not, it’s a very interesting read, and well worth the $20 or so dollars it will set you back. Without giving too much of the plot away, it’s a different take on what makes someone successful. Basically, Malcolm says being smart, driven, maybe from an affluent family, going to the best schools will not necessarily make you successful. A big part of becoming successfull, he reasons, is being in the right place at the right time, enjoying the exact opportunity, environment and conditions.

From Mining, through Civil Projects to Recruiting

I started my career back with BHP, “the big Australian” as it used to be known (maybe still is?). As an undergrad, I did stints at Goonyella River Side, Gregory Crinum, then post grad went across to work in BHPIO at one of the world’s largest Iron Ore Mines at Mt Whaleback – yes, that was the one that Lang Hancock (Gina’s dad) flew over in his plane, on the edge of the Great Sandy Desert in WA, and his magnetic navigational aids went nuts, hence giving the game away there was a mountain of iron ore below him.

From there, I went to work on civil projects in the UK for six years – typically on road and airport projects, greenfields, brownfields, with my speciality being the now long-gone Highways Agency procurement method of the “Lane Rentals”, having successfully completed eight in my time as a contractor. For the last thirteen years, I have been flat out, recruiting between UK, Ireland, UAE, NZ and my home country of Australia, which is where I’m now based. They said my generation would have three very different careers – looks like they were right.

Malcolm and the Boom

So back to Malcolm Gladwell and where he fits in with his “Outliers”. As I explain to my colleagues, clients, and candidates I deal with, the Australian Civil Engineering market is at the bottom of a large tsunami wave of work which is about to sweep over us.

Our boom is upon us and we will ride out this wave over the next 5 to 10 years. Without having a crystal ball to see into the future, I doubt we will have conditions like this i.e. lots of work in front of us, over a sustained period, for a long, long time.

In “Outliers” Malcolm defined how or what makes you successful in different terms to the norm.

Yes, it helps if you’re smart, you went to the right school and got good grades, however a big part of it, is being in the right place at the right time, maybe working for the right company, with the right boss, or……. being at the bottom of a tsunami wave of work which reaches far into the sky. Here in Australia, we have exactly all the right conditions to be propelled into engineering stardom with the amount of work that is on the horizon (both near and far).

Do you want to drive that career to the next level? Australia’s the place to do it!

These are genuinely exciting times to be involved in the Civil Engineering industry in Australia. If you’re here already, or if you’re coming, I hope you make the most of it. And don’t forget to get yourself a copy of “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell – it’s a bloody good read!

Peter Laver
Director of ConsultANZ
[email protected]

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