Daniel (Dan) Phillips
Operations Engineer, Opus
In a nutshell: Working in the Rotorua Project Services team managing contracts, putting together contract documentation and supervising road construction sites.
Why? "I like tackling a problem on site and coming up with a solution that is both practical and good value for money for the client. And working outside is good."
Rotorua Boys' High School, Final year subjects: English, Geography, History, PE, Statistics
University of Canterbury: Bachelor of Forestry Science
My hobbies are all outdoor activities – mountain biking, wakeboarding and wakeskating, snowboarding, travel – so a job that was entirely office-based was never going to suit me.
Being an operations engineer involves a mixture of writing contract documents and reports, and spending time on site to make sure the contractors are building the road as specified in the contract documents.
Usually I'm out of the office more in summer as – conveniently – that is when most of the roading work is done. My favourite part of my job is tackling a problem on site and coming up with a solution that is both practical and good value for money for the client.
The environment here at Opus is very accommodating and that made it easy to kick start my career in this industry.
While I was studying for my forestry science degree, I worked during the summer holidays in the Opus materials testing laboratory, then started full-time when I graduated. Opus sponsored my studies and I also had a scholarship from the Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust.
The most exciting project I've worked on so far was improving State Highway 36 through Mangorewa Gorge. There was a lot of blasting work, causing a rock fall incident which crushed three cars. Luckily nobody was injured, but it was a vivid demonstration of what happens when things don't go exactly according to plan.
I'm currently involved in a project for the district council, which helps local businesses to find ways to operate more sustainably. It should really benefit the Rotorua district by reducing waste and pollution.
Maths, science and technology are all extremely relevant subjects for working in the civil engineering industry. There is huge science behind pavement design and pavement surfacing, and a big maths component in designing roads and measuring quantities for projects.
But it also really helps to have good communication skills – you have to be able to talk to a range of people in my job, from clients and contractors to members of the public.
Posted October 2011
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