On the back of a successful 2017 for Buildcorp’s Queensland team, we spoke to their Construction Manager, Layton Waters, about his experience and construction career advice for those starting out in the industry. Layton has over 27 years of experience in construction leadership roles and credits his diverse career to making the most of opportunities and a desire to impact the bigger picture. More recently Layton has helped the team navigate a successful period of growth into new build construction. Buildcorp Queensland is currently full steam ahead on a number of high profile projects, including Origin’s new Brisbane HQ and Mirvac’s Kawana Shoppingworld redevelopment.
Q. Your construction career has spanned many sectors and roles- briefly describe your journey so far.
LW: I originally started out as an apprentice carpenter and during this period I realised my skills and interest lied more with the people management and operational side of construction. After completing my apprenticeship and during my Construction Management degree, I took a variety of opportunities that came my way. I’ve worked with large multi nationals (formerly Balderstone Hornibrook and Leightons), as well as smaller niche market specialists (Australand, Total Construction and Devine).
I’ve worked on large scale infrastructure projects, multi-storey commercial towers, industrial and marine projects and was fortunate to be a part of the team on the Royal Adelaide Hospital project.
Q. Was it your plan to gain experience across such diverse projects and roles?
LW: I didn’t really set out with one path in mind but as I progressed, I was looking out for roles that enabled me to contribute beyond project delivery. I worked for a number of construction businesses in operational roles where I covered business development and created strategies that helped to enter new markets or create commercial opportunity.
Q. What’s the most significant job in your career that you have worked on and why?
LW: Most might assume the $1.8bn Royal Adelaide Hospital would be the most significant project because of its size and profile. I enjoyed being involved from the bid stage through to the design and construction methodology, site logistics, remediation and then finally in Industrial Relations.
However, the most important job for me was the Adelaide Oval Light Tower Project. This demanding project was early in my career gave me the opportunity to challenge myself, teaching me a lot about our industry, my strengths and the essentials for a successful project. The project ran for a number of years and I worked with many different project stakeholders to achieve an outcome that was important to our client, our business and all the people involved in the project.
Q. What were the most important lessons you learned on that project?
LW: It taught me the importance and the value in understanding all factors that can impact on a project – from project conception and planning, to client vision and stakeholder needs. It also reinforced the importance of having a cohesive team environment and being across the big picture and the detail right from the start to ensure the project can be delivered safely and successfully.
Q. What got you into construction and what motivates you to stay?
LW: I guess what got me into Construction Management is what still keeps me in it and that is how we can ‘create something from nothing’. What is fascinating about our industry is the enormous amount of things that go together and how lots of different people from labourers to architects and stakeholders all work together towards a shared goal.
Q. Do you have any advice for people starting out in the industry?
LW: My advice to people starting out is ‘don’t be too premeditated with your career plan’; we have such a diverse industry and there are many fantastic career and life opportunities if you are open to them.
Whilst it is important to have a goal, don’t be obsessed with ‘the pathway to getting there’ and instead focus on widening your experience in roles that teach you about your own strengths. Look for businesses like Buildcorp that offer a supportive culture based on strong values, as they will also give you the opportunity to learn from the best and develop your capabilities.