HKA young professionals: Kaitlin Reidy and Belinda Papps, construction project consultants

10th November 2017

“At HKA, I have the opportunity to work on a variety of projects and consider the bigger picture. I like understanding and being involved in the strategic plan for major city shaping projects.”
Belinda Papps, Project Engineer

Meet Consultants Kaitlin Reidy and Belinda Papps (pictured)

Here, HKA’s young and ambitious Kaitlin Reidy (Project Manager) and Belinda Papps (Project Engineer) set the record straight about what it’s really like working on a Government project as Consultant.

Tell us a bit about yourself, what did you study and what have you been doing in the industry?

KR I have a First Class Honours Degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Newcastle and last year I started an MBA. While studying, I received two scholarships; one was the Facility of Engineering and Built Environment Outgoing Exchange Scholarship to study at Bruno University of Technology in Czech Republic. Returning to Australia, I worked for Roads and Maritime Services as a Project Development Support Officer on Westconnex Enabling Works, and as a Site Engineer on the Hunter Expressway. Graduating in 2014, I joined Laing O’Rourke’s Graduate Program and worked on the Woolgoolga to Ballina Highway Upgrade Project as a Site Engineer and Procurement Officer. HKA subsequently approached me to work with Roads and Maritime as a Project Engineer on the Easing Sydney Congestion Program.

BP I studied Civil Engineering at Sydney University, majoring in Construction Management. After graduating, I worked for a mid-tier construction company in Civil Engineering. Similar to Kaitlin, I wanted a change from construction and came across HKA through a referral from one of their Consultants.

What do you enjoy about your job? 

BP At HKA, I have the opportunity to work on a variety of projects and consider the bigger picture. I like understanding and being involved in the strategic plan for major city shaping projects. 

KR – In project management, you get to work with different disciplines and solve bigger picture problems. I enjoy watching the planning and the decision making on a project. Being able to shape and have the power to change. You figure out how people tick and what works. I work with a great team at my current project, Easing Sydney’s Congestion for Roads and Maritime Services. We spend a lot of time together every day, which shapes how our team works together and creates a unified culture.  

“Working at HKA, I feel valued.” Katie

A particular accomplishment you’re most proud of? 

BP When I worked at a mid-tier construction company I was delegated the responsibility of managing a large civil works contract for the City of Sydney Council. I am proud to have been given this opportunity and responsibility; this in itself is an accomplishment, let alone at 23 years of age and with only a short time in the industry.

KR – You don’t find many people that are my age, especially in Government, who do what I do and that’s pretty cool. Building relationships to ensure optimum project outcomes also gives me a sense of achievement. I’m proud that I’ve taken every opportunity I can.

What does a typical day look for you? 

KR – A lot of meetings! Between the two of us, we are looking after a portfolio of 15 road projects. Each project has its own challenges, different phases, different stakeholders and different teams. The role requires a lot of people management and coordination. But at the end of the day, we do what we do to hit the schedule and manage the cost and deliver on time, while remembering that we’re there to meet the needs of our Government client. 

How do you motivate yourself? 

BP  Knowing that I worked hard and did a good job is my motivation. Understanding that the team depends on me is also a great motivator.

KR – What motivates me is I want to be the best. I want my team to be the best and I try to facilitate that. If I have a bad day, I figure out why it didn’t go well and try to resolve the problem. Project management can be hard for certain people, but if you are positive and feel a sense of achievement, that always helps.

What changes did you make to get where you are?

BPLooking back working with a contractor in construction, that environment and the culture was a challenge but it taught me a strong work ethic. I was the kind of person that coasted through university but working in construction made me realise that I enjoy working hard.

KR While at school I wanted to be a Physiotherapist until I received advice from my Physics teacher, an ex-Engineer, that I’d make a good engineer. This inspired me to consider something different and I haven’t looked back since.

Any advice for people wanting to get into Management Consulting?

KRTake every opportunity. There is a lot variety in Management Consulting and it suits someone who enjoys change; you are able to work on different projects either short-term or for a longer stint. Management Consulting has a different vibe and creates a lifestyle where you can create your own path.

“You can add a lot of value being a Consultant – you can make a big impact on city shaping projects.” Katie

BPChanging the direction of my career was a great decision. When you enjoy what you do it makes a huge difference.

“Don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo. You are there to bring something different.” Belinda

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Belinda Papps, Construction Consultant
At HKA, I have the opportunity to work on a variety of projects and consider the bigger picture. I like understanding and being involved in the strategic plan for major city shaping projects. ”
Belinda Papps, Project Engineer