Hit reset with a secondment

WGA News: Hit reset with a secondment Article Image
Mariah Vladimirova snorkelling at Exmouth, WA

Where and how long was your secondment? 
I am based at the WGA South Australia office and took a secondment of 3 months to our Perth office. It went way too quickly. I think if I take one again, I would look for an offer of six months. It takes about a month to get in the groove and build friendships, start to feel comfortable, and then you probably have a month of really enjoying it. And then you're winding down to leave again.

How did this secondment benefit you as an individual and an engineer?  
The great thing about doing a secondment is you get to go to a place where you can start with a clean slate. People you get to work with don't have set expectations or opinions about what technical style you practice or your personality. I had the confidence to take on jobs somewhat out of my reach, learn from them, and do them right. So, instead of being delegated a task that was usually within my set capabilities, I could make the choice and push my limits.

Our offices are well equipped with good technical training to prepare those coming on secondments. Secondments are great opportunities to develop professional skills and personal skills like your confidence in yourself, which is, something that you can't teach. It's more through experiences that you can build that up. You're given that opportunity to step up and,  can push yourself into that role without any expectations. That's special.

Can you share any exciting projects or initiatives you were involved during your time there?
One of the exciting things I got to experience was working with a fresh team of architects and other consultants who applied different techniques from what I am generally used to. So, for example, their precast concrete elements. Typically, in Adelaide, panels are poured in the shop and then transported to the site, whereas in WA, it's more typical for them to set up the casting beds on site and then lift them up.

I had the opportunity to work on the Ocean Reef Sea Sports Club project, which posed some unique challenges. The building is designed to be predominantly constructed from concrete, so we had to exercise caution when incorporating steel. The exception being a steel roof and external canopies. The first floor is suspended and supported by all the footings, and consists of a two-way off-form flat plate slab supported on concrete columns to discrete pad footings. This was particularly challenging as the building is located by the sea, and sea spray can be highly corrosive. We took extra care to ensure that all the steel columns, including those used for the canopy, were coated with high-quality paint to guarantee the building's integrity for at least 50 years.

What can someone expect out of a secondment?  
I think it really depends on your personality. You will need an adventurous spirit. Expect something different; you are always energised. I highly recommend it. Going to the Perth office was just such a positive experience, and there was an excellent bunch of people over there and they enthusiastically took me under their wing. Super supportive and made sure I did as much as possible in and out of work. It’s not only a chance to grow professionally but to also travel within another state, I certainly made the most of that!

Next time, I would consider Darwin, Newcastle, and even Brisbane would be cool. 

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