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Interview

A conversation with Caitlin Trumble, Associate Director, Oceania

Caitlin competing in a surf boat competition

After six months of parental leave, Caitlin Trumble rejoined the business to work on one of Sydney’s largest infrastructure projects. We sat down to talk about her return to work experience.

What is your role at HKA?

I’m an Associate Director in the Infrastructure Delivery team.

I am currently working as part of the Sydney Metro Western Sydney Airport Integration and Delivery Partner (IDP) team, which is helping to deliver the stations that link the airport to the rest of the network. This project is a major part of the greater vision for Western Sydney. As a project manager, my job is to ensure that the cogs in the wheel are in place to move the project forward.

What is your academic and business background?

I have an undergraduate degree in Politics from the University of Michigan and a Juris Doctorate (law degree) from the University of Melbourne but there’s a bit of a back story.

I grew up in Perth with my Canadian parents. We came to Australia when my dad was offered a job. As a teenager, I was a competitive river rower and got into the WA Institute of Sport. Towards the end of high school, my mum suggested applying for a sports scholarship in the States which is how I ended up at the University of Michigan.

I completed my undergrad degree while rowing 25 hours per week plus events. Our team went to the National Championships twice and we finished top 8. I was selected to row for Canada, with my team making it to the U23 World Championships. We came fourth.

I decided it was time to move back to Australia, where I began a law degree. After completing some legal clerkships, I decided law wasn’t the path I wanted to pursue. A recommendation to try commercial management piqued my interest, and I’ve now been working in the construction industry, mainly in commercial roles, for nine years.

What sparked your interest in infrastructure?

I like how infrastructure can connect people and really change their lives. Providing easily accessible and affordable public transport is an important part of government service delivery. 

When I was living in Michigan, I noticed the lack of public transport and how that affected anyone who couldn’t afford their own car. Simply adding a bus stop or a train station can impact someone who previously had no way of getting around.

That’s why it’s exciting to be involved in a project like Western Sydney Airport. It’s being built in an area that has limited public transport at the moment so the rail link will have tangible effects on the community.

What made you choose this career path?

I fell into construction and commercial management after I finished my law degree and decided I didn’t want to be a lawyer. My commercial roles have given me some amazing experiences, but last year, I decided I wanted a new direction.

HKA is very supportive of people’s individual interests and providing learning opportunities, so I talked to my team leader about trying something different. I was able to pivot to a project management role, which I’m really enjoying.

What do you love about what you do?

Construction, particularly infrastructure, is a whole bunch of people with different personalities and skill sets coming together to create something big. I love working with people with such diverse backgrounds.

You were recently promoted. Tell me about that.  

It was very exciting to be promoted, especially since I was on parental leave at the time.

COVID has made it more challenging for leaders to understand what their team is working on and where people are stepping up and doing more or falling behind. The leadership team have to work harder to understand who is performing but it’s important to continue to reward people for their work, even in tough times. I’m really happy to be recognised in this way.

Like most of us, you have other roles beyond your role at HKA; tell me more about them.

I have a seven-month-old son and a 1-year-old dog which keeps me pretty busy! I’m also on a surf boat rowing team competing in the Australian Championships.

I always wanted to row surfboats. It’s much less formal than river rowing, and there’s that element of danger. You never know what the waves are going to throw at you and you have to trust your sweep to get you back to shore safely. It’s the ultimate team sport – if someone fails, you all fail. It teaches you to work with people from a variety of backgrounds and different personalities which is like construction in a way.

You’ve just returned from parental leave. How has the transition been?

Although it was hard to send my little man to daycare after spending six months with him, the HKA and Transport for NSW teams have been so supportive. It’s made it much easier to return to work, and I am really enjoying working with the team. The hybrid work environment also really helps. My commute to the daycare is much shorter when I am working from home, meaning I get to spend more time with him.

How did you stay connected to the business during that time?

HKA was very good about inviting me to social events scheduled when I was on leave and I made an effort to attend where I could to keep in touch with my colleagues. It was so nice to see people face to face and I felt more connected to the business because of it. A couple of colleagues said they were pleased to see me too, which is a bonus!

What is something about you that might surprise people?

I don’t like tomatoes. Give me tomato sauce any day of the week but tomatoes, particularly on a sandwich? Who wants soggy bread!

If you want to find out more about joining HKA, contact lizkane@hka.com to arrange a confidential discussion or visit www.careers.hka.com

Liz Kane, RECRUITMENT MANAGER

This publication presents the views, thoughts or opinions of the author and not necessarily those of HKA. Whilst we take every care to ensure the accuracy of this information at the time of publication, the content is not intended to deal with all aspects of the subject referred to, should not be relied upon and does not constitute advice of any kind. This publication is protected by copyright © 2022 HKA Global Ltd.

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