Being A Continuous Learner Has Always Taken My Career Forward
Lachlan Jamieson Business Development Manager, NKT Australia
NKT Australia provides solutions for high voltage installations (11kV-420kV) primarily across the utilities and renewables sectors. It has been leading the industry since 1891, combining experience with local support and knowledge of disappearing skill sets. The company also invests in quality, in-depth training of skilled professionals, which helps spread valuable field knowledge across the industry.
I started as an Electrical Fitter Mechanic apprentice through the local electrical utility in Mackay, Queensland. I learned distribution and transmission systems, performing maintenance, construction and testing works on various electrical substation components.
I liked my job and the opportunities it gave me, like the one of traveling throughout Victoria and Tasmania, constructing new electrical infrastructure projects. At 25, with some experience behind, I decided to switch to a new field and got my first real exposure to the mining industry.
In the Bowen Basin, Mackay, I performed high voltage testing and commissioning across various mine site assets. Later, I got a chance to pursue testing via FIFO (fly-in-fly-out) work in Western Australia on an offshore oil & gas mining facility.
That work was an eye-opener in many ways – working off an uninhabited remote island, on a 26/9 day roster with 12 hour night shifts, regular 50C+ days and 10 hours’ worth of flights just to get to work. It was intensive, but the testing and commissioning experience I gained in a relatively short time was invaluable.
Path to a Business Development Manager
After spending 3 years in Canada, I got back to the ‘real world,’ settled back in Brisbane, and started working with NKT as a Project Manager. I looked after various HV underground network projects, including the largest wind farm in Australia (at the time).
Learning new stuff was always my thing, and so I enrolled for Marketing & Communication studies which eventually has gained me my current role of a Business Development Manager. I’m also an NKT Australia’s HSEQ Manager, and have overseen NKT Australia’s digitalisation process since early 2019.
Duties and tasks of a business development manager vary from day to day. But in general we offer our Australian/NZ customers a ‘turnkey’ solution of product supply & installation of high voltage accessories up to 420kV.
“What I enjoy the most is the varied role with opportunities to learn and gain regular exposure to specialized work and business development tools and techniques, having a global support network with a local team full of industry leaders”.
Going Digital at NKT
As a Development Manager, I understood the necessity for digitization. The first steps were taken in 2019, when we were working on a wind farm in Northern Australia, and our customer and the principal contractor had required all project deliverables to be completed digitally.
Fortunately, through previous business relationships with the project manager and clientele on site, we were able to utilize their already used electrical contractor software as an introductory solution, which just so happened to be Fluix. And while we did research various products, none quite fit as Fluix did – and we had the added benefit of using it first hand ourselves previously.
Switching from paper to digital was something that none of our field staff had experienced in the past, and the initial reactions were somewhat skewed towards the sentiment of ‘learning a new system equals more work’. This was quickly forgotten, however.
“Once the guys got familiar with the electrical service management software & understood the role of workflows between internal and external management teams, they realized that going digital meant much less work for the field team, with a vast improvement in the overall quality of the output.”
As for the challenges, the biggest was probably onboarding our whole field staff team, which were spread out across Australia. But like most things, once the staff were able to get hands-on experience with the electrical service work order software and tablets, we really haven’t had to provide any additional training since, as the simplistic nature of the system spurs knowledge growth organically, through daily use on site.
On the Value of Technologies
Today, technology is developing at a rapid pace and I’m always on the lookout for tools and innovations that can assist in making my life easier. With NKT in Australia, we currently use Fluix for our onsite quality & safety management systems, iAuditor for our internal QMS auditing, and have various integrations between cloud storages, electrical contractor software, servers and our accounting software.
Being a product manufacturer, we’re also currently working on developing a system that will create a quality assurance scheme in conjunction with QR codes, for each of our local products sold.
This would help capture key installation data for each installed NKT product in Australia, such as who/what/when/where/how, giving our customers greater transparency over their assets, and an instant database of past installations completed. This also helps us with potential future warranty claims, and ensuring personnel are trained and competent for the works they perform.
Comparing the times before digitalization and after we started using electrical contractor software, I don’t think I could go back to performing daily tasks on paper. Maybe it’s a hesitancy to change processes that have been a certain way for a long time, but I simply don’t understand companies that have not yet looked into streamlining their paper processes into digital workflows, when there are so many options currently available.
“Our Fluix system alone, which costs less than $5000 per year, saves us the equivalent of probably 1administration employee annually, and the software is scalable to suit any sized team.”
Not only the efficiency side is a great benefit, but the quality of your outputs will dramatically increase: There’s no embedding photos on a paper document covered in coffee stains, there’s no automated time/date/GPS stamps involved in bulky project handover folders, and there’s no instant analytics when you have to manually input data from handwritten notes.
Advice to Young Talents
The development of soft skills cannot be overlooked. Being able to quickly adapt to different positions, demographics, cultures, and backgrounds makes a huge difference in building relationships, and your soft skill set is even more important than technical knowledge.
“You could succeed with only soft skills and poor technical knowledge (with the right support), but you would really struggle with the converse being no soft skills and a high technical knowledge.”
Most importantly, always try to learn something, whether it be a new skill or topic, signing up to a short course, webinar, or even YouTube tutorials. There is so much good (often free) learning content out there that you don’t need to be up to your eyeballs in university fees to continually learn, upskill, and improve, while still building on your chosen career.
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