21 May 2020

Building the engineering leaders of tomorrow

That first job after graduating from university is a crucial stepping stone for most people’s careers. But what happens when just a month into your new job, a global pandemic results in you working from home? Establishing networks and getting to know how a business ticks becomes more challenging when you’re not physically in the office or at a site.

Graduate engineers Sean Harding, James Hoult, Patrick Horsley and Matt Wyllie started at CS Energy’s Brisbane Office in February this year. Like many of our employees, the graduates have been working from home since mid-March and are taking the challenges of remote working in their stride.

Mechanical engineer Patrick Horsley said he was enjoying being able to spend more time with his partner while working from home.

“At the moment I feel like I have a great work-life balance,” Patrick said. “Not having to commute frees up time that I can spend exercising or working on my hobbies.

“The challenge has been that it is harder to network and make new connections with other employees when I haven’t met them in person yet. But everyone has been very welcoming and happy to talk on phone and video conference.”

Engineering graduates
Above: CS Energy graduate engineers Sean Harding, James Hoult, Patrick Horsley and Matt Wyllie catch up over Webex.

Normally at this point in the year, the new graduates would be transferring out to one of CS Energy’s regional power stations as part of the site rotations in the graduate program.

In response to travel restrictions, CS Energy has kept the engineers in Brisbane and placed them in different groups in the Asset Management division. It’s an opportunity for the graduates to work with some of the most senior engineers in the business and learn about CS Energy’s asset management strategies and engineering root cause analyses.

Mechatronics graduate James Hoult said he was enjoying applying his studies to real-life engineering challenges.

“As our Graduate Program Manager told us, you will never find a more complex and interesting site to work on than a coal-fired power station,” James said. “From high pressure systems to boilers, from turbines and generators to pumps and mills – a power station is a gold mine of things to learn and understand.

“I’m enjoying learning, plain and simple. And I am excited for when we will eventually get out to the power stations later this year.”

The CS Energy Graduate Program aims to help graduates bridge the gap between university and working life. The program gives participants the chance to work across the entirety of our business and they are supported through structured work rotations and mentoring from seasoned industry professionals.

Three people who have spent plenty of time on site are the previous graduate program intake – Steve Schluter, Andrew Bazeley and Mahali Heffner who joined CS Energy in 2018. All three are mechanical engineers and have progressed into engineering roles with the business.

Steve Schluter is based at Kogan Creek Power Station on Queensland’s Western Downs and works in the site’s plant engineering team. For Steve, one of his biggest learnings from his time as a graduate was not technical.

“Knowing who the right person to contact for more information or support is a really key part of being a graduate,” Steve said.

“The program reinforced for me that working as a team is incredibly powerful, and by visiting each site and meeting people from all different aspects of the business makes day-to-day work life so much easier.”

Mahali Heffner, who works in the plant engineering team at Callide Power Station in Central Queensland, had a similar learning experience.

“There are a lot of experienced people within this company that are willing to support and help you if you ask,” Mahali said.

“I also enjoyed the graduate quarterly workshops where the graduates could catch up, share our experiences and undergo additional training to develop and strengthen our power station and engineering knowledge.”

Engineering graduates
Above: CS Energy's previous intake of graduate engineers Steve Schluter, Andrew Bazeley and Mahali Heffner.

The third of the original trio of graduates – Andrew Bazeley – is working in the Brisbane-based Asset Management Team. Like Steve and Mahali, Andrew has enjoyed applying his theoretical study from university to the real-world technical challenges that a power station can present.

“We’ve been trusted with challenging projects. Since joining CS Energy I have delivered capital projects, worked on major unit overhauls and assisted with inspection and repair scopes on forced outages,” Andrew said.

“My advice for the new graduates is to enjoy the experience, ask lots of questions and don’t be afraid to put your hand up if you want to get involved in an interesting project.”