Profile: Mat Collins
Engineering offers many opportunities. One of these opportunities is the ability to work flexibly. This case study is one of a series which showcases the diverse people working in engineering and their varied working arrangements.
Who do you work for?
Beca Ltd, based in the Auckland office.
What tertiary qualifications do you hold?
A Bachelor of Engineering with Honours.
What professional memberships do you hold?
I’m a Graduate Member of IPENZ and a Member of the New Zealand Chapter of the Project Management Institute (PMI).
What is your current role and what does it involve?
I’m Assistant Project Manager with the Infrastructure Management team at Beca. We work on a wide variety of infrastructure projects including road, rail, ports, electricity generation and dams. I work mainly in the project controls space, which involves financial monitoring and reporting, scope control, client communications, scheduling and quality assurance.
How many hours do you work in the average working week?
Between 40 and 42 hours.
What is your current employment and personal situation?
My wife, Lisa, and I live in Birkenhead, on the North Shore of Auckland. We have five kids (aged eight to fourteen) and both work full time. Lisa works as a Partner Manager for a tech start-up.
Why did you decide on a career in engineering?
I left school and joined first the Royal New Zealand Air Force, then the New Zealand Fire Service as a firefighter. After 17 years I felt I needed a new challenge. I had always had an interest in engineering and thought fire engineering would be a logical progression. As I became immersed in my engineering studies I realised I was more attracted to project management.
How has your company supported you to balance your work and other commitments?
Beca aren’t rigid to the traditional hours of 8:30am to 5pm. I tend to start work about 8am and finish a little before 5pm, which allows me to be home for the kids before 6pm. Beca encourage staff to manage their workload by delegating and sharing work to avoid working long hours.
What does the future hold for you professionally and privately?
Professionally, I will continue to seek new challenges. After 17 years in one job I now seem to have a constant drive to learn, develop and grow. Beca offer a wide range of services and, being a large company, there’s always something new to learn.
Personally, I may continue with further study, but for now I’m enjoying having time at nights and weekends for my family. As the kids start leaving home Lisa and I plan to do some travel. We may look at relocating overseas for a few years.
What advice do you have for others who are seeking to work more flexibly or who are managing work and commitments?
Don’t dismiss anything as impossible! If you’re open to considering all options and opportunities it’s amazing how you can steer your life in directions you never dreamed possible. Be creative when seeking the right balance to your commitments.
Without the support of family and friends, particularly from Lisa, I wouldn’t have been able to tackle a degree as an adult student. Build and nurture a strong personal network around you – they’re the people that will prop you up, champion you and encourage you. You won’t meet your full potential on your own, both in a personal and professional sense. A journey is far more enjoyable when shared with others.
Thanks to Mat for taking the time to give us an insight into his life.
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