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Wanted down under

This is the story of Thomas Sheridan, senior geotechnical engineer, who recently relocated from the UK to Australia.

Since moving to Sydney, I have had many opportunities to push myself professionally and to learn new skills. I’ve worked on exciting projects, including the Sydney Metro and the proposed Melbourne airport rail link.

I like to push myself in work and in life. Just 10 months after joining Mott MacDonald, I took a long-term secondment with Mott MacDonald Bentley. At the same time, I joined a rowing club and started competing in regattas across the UK. So, having achieved chartered status with the Institution of Civil Engineers, it was only natural that I sought a new challenge for myself – both technically and personally.

After discussing my targets for the year with my line manager, I looked for internal opportunities, quickly identifying a role as senior geotechnical engineer in Sydney. I knew that Australia was going through an infrastructure development boom and I was keen to be part of it. I arranged an interview with the local team lead and received a formal offer soon after. Once my visa was sorted – all handled by our in-house global mobility team ­– I was off to the other side of the world.

For many people switching to a new team it can be scary, let alone relocating to a new city and country. But, as the date of departure got closer, I got more excited. Luckily the actual moving process was entirely taken care of by Mott MacDonald. The relocation agent was great, having emailed back and forth my living and location preferences before leaving the UK. She met me on my first weekend in Sydney and gave me a tour of all the neighbourhoods meeting my criteria. It made it so easy to get a feel for the city and narrow my search to one or two areas.

Since moving to Sydney, I have had many opportunities to push myself professionally and to learn new skills. I’ve worked on exciting projects, including the Sydney Metro and the proposed Melbourne airport rail link. I’ve also just had a paper accepted for a conference in Cairns next year – where else can you present a paper in a tropical paradise without leaving the country?

When the Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) branch of Advance, our equality, diversity and inclusion staff network sought new committee members, I jumped at the chance to bring to the group my learning from the UK where I’d been co-champion of Advancing LGBT+. As a member of the ANZ Advance committee, I’ve helped to develop our first Reconciliation Action Plan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander inclusion. This is a region I knew very little about before starting, so it’s been a really rewarding journey of learning and understanding.

Being in Australia is not all work though. In the year I’ve been in Sydney, I’ve built a fantastic network of friends both in and out of work. Sydneysiders are very friendly and engaging. Our end of the week office drinks on Fridays have been a great way to mingle and get to know people.

Of course, Sydney is a truly outdoor city, with vast national parks, the Blue Mountains and the world-famous harbour and beaches, so there’s always time to enjoy the sunshine and catch some surf. As a rower, one of my first actions after landing in Sydney was to find a rowing club and I’m now training with a great team.

One year on, Sydney already feels like home. I can’t wait to see where this adventure takes me to next.

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