Working in Human Resources, Narelle Aucote, has worked across Construction, Mining and Manufacturing for over 20 years. She has been fortunate to have worked on a variety of construction projects and mine sites, in Australia and throughout the world. We caught up with Narelle to find out a little more about her career and projects.
Why did you become an HR Professional?
I must admit I actually “stumbled across” HR. I had quit Uni (Deg. In Science, majoring in Marine Biology), my parents were not thrilled, and so I had to find a job. I started working in an Administration role, this involved completing payroll for the business. I then moved into a specialist payroll role which was a part of a wider HR Team. After a short time in that team I was provided with opportunities from there to support the HR team in learning and development and recruitment. I had always had an interest in people and what motivates them but I did not really know about Human Resources and the role they played in companies until I joined the corporate world. From there I worked full time and studied part time and career progressed into specialist HR roles. Whilst not the “normal” way of progressing into a career, I have definitely found working and studying gave me a far better practical application of my learning and knowledge and this has definitely helped me in my career.
What do you love about our industry?
The diversity of projects, locations, people and learning. Each day is different, each person is different but together we form a great team and get to be involved in some amazing projects. Many people not involved in Civil Construction take for granted what we do and for a non-Engineer in this industry I feel really privileged to be a part of our exciting, fast-moving and ever-changing industry.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am very excitedly working on the Bielby HR Strategy. It will cover all aspects of the HR Life cycle from Recruitment to Culture to Diversity to Learning and Development and beyond! In my past roles, I have specialised in Learning and Development, and I am very passionate about growing and challenging all of our Bielby team members to be the best they can. One aspect of our Learning and Development strategy is to continue to develop the Bielby Engineer Development program based on our Bielby Pillars. I have also been very busy recruiting and ensuring we have more great team members to meet the requirements of all our projects.
What has been your greatest professional achievement to date?
The projects I am most proud to have been involved in, in the past are:
Leadership Development program for Site Supervisors and Superintendents to help them with the leadership skills they need to step up from being on the tools. We demystified what leadership is, and rather than going with the “sink or swim” attitude that many companies have we provided our front line leaders with the ability to lead.
Restructure and Organisational change project for a manufacturing facility in South Africa. Together with the leadership team, we turned a business that was losing 1.1M Rand per year into a business that was making 10M Rand per year. Through this, I once again saw the value of great leadership in creating an amazing culture, a motivated team and dedication to a business.
What’s the best project you have worked on?
Working in a corporate support function I have been very privileged to have worked on many projects and have travelled Australia and the World doing this. My role has not only involved working on site but also supporting projects from Australia, and this has helped to develop my skills in communication, cultural understanding, strategy, industrial relations for numerous countries, as well as how best to support our team members who are away from families in FIFO an DIDO roles.
I feel it really important to share the opportunities our industry provides not only to Engineers but also support staff who are willing to get in and have a go and I would honestly struggle to say which project has been the best. On each project I have learned something and have got to experience something I would never have in any other industry… like getting to see a Hippopotamus on my way to work in South Africa, seeing an Oil and Gas flare light up the Jungle canopy at night in the Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea, seeing the sea turtles playing in the waves off of Barrow Island and experiencing the beauty of so many sunrises and sunsets in some of the most remote locations of Australia, places where many people would never think to travel to. Whilst getting to see these things I have also met some of the most diverse and wonderful people… and that is why I get out of bed and come to work each day.
What’s the most useful thing you’ve learned throughout your career?
To be adaptable, seize every opportunity that comes along and challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone daily. There are so many amazing things I would have missed out on it I had of listened to that little voice that said, “what if” and also my fears. Instead, I went with the attitude “I would rather regret the things I’ve done than regret the things I haven’t done”. I can honestly say I have not regretted anything I have done in my career and I am so grateful to the employers I have worked with for the opportunities they have given me.
What would your last meal be?
I love a good cheese platter, so one of those with a variety of different cheeses and a lot of wine.
What is the last movie you watched or series you binged?
Having two young kids, I tend to binge Bluey, Trolls and Paw Patrol!
Unfortunately, I do also have a terrible addiction to the reality show “Below Deck”. I love watching it for the amazing yachts and locations they go, but also for the ridiculousness of the passengers and crew.
Who’s the greatest engineer of all time and why?
I think the Engineer that built the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao Spain must have been pretty impressive as whilst it is absolutely beautiful, but I am not really sure it was designed to be constructed easily.
What excites you about the future of infrastructure?
I think that the work that many companies are doing in regards to using recyclable materials in road surfaces is very interesting and also the balance that we are now seeing in regards to considering our environment and how we minimise the impact. There will always need to be infrastructure construction and so I like to think that by being in the industry we can champion how we balance the environmental impact.
If you could have worked on any major project from history, what would it have been?
Notre Dame Cathedral. I am a believer that Paris could never be considered over-rated. It is a beautiful city and the first time I saw Notre Dame my breath was truly taken away. Once the restoration, from the 2019 fire, is completed I hope to be able to see it once again.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
We love to travel but that has obviously been hampered a bit by Covid, and so we now tend to camp a lot with the kids, this can be fun and not fun all at once!
Much of my time is taken up in “Mum’s Taxi” duties of ferrying the kids from playdates to sports, but when I do have a bit of spare me time, I love to read and I love to walk the dog along the Manly foreshore.