Shane Patten: A career journey from electrician to construction management

Career snapshot
I began my career as an electrician straight after finishing year 12. As an apprentice in a small company, I got to learn a bit of everything before working in commercial construction as a qualified electrician.

After many years in a commercial setting I stumbled across the opportunity to join Zinfra as an electrician and decided a change was needed and what better way than joining an industry that maintains critical infrastructure, so I went for it. I’ve now been working for Zinfra for around 8 years and have had multiple roles during this time. Originally I worked on the digital meter upgrade project but had the ultimate aim to work in substations, which is where I moved to next and have been delivering projects within the AusNet transmission/sub-transmission space ever since.

The substation work is completely different to what people would classify as normal electrical work. In any given day in an electrical substation, I could be working on secondary wiring, assembling primary equipment such as circuit breakers, earthing to the main grid and all the nuts and bolts in between. I was first promoted to crew leader, working with the construction manager delivering end to end execution of various scopes of work, and have recently had the opportunity to step up again to become a Construction Manager where I get to apply my field experience in the planning and management phase of a project. I’m currently responsible for a team of around 20 people working at Jemena’s Coolaroo Zone Substation project.

It’s been a journey you could say, one which has continued to provide opportunity after opportunity!

Working at Zinfra

It’s such a supportive team at Zinfra, I really like the people. We’re all here for the same reason - to do our jobs. We want to be here.

It’s tough to say what I like best about working at Zinfra as there are so many aspects to the job that keep me engaged and utilise all my skills. The variety of the day-to-day tasks in both roles would be a highlight. Previously in my last role I could be driving a crane one day and be up in an EWP working on powerlines in the switchyard the next day.

Currently in my new role the day to day management of the site could see me undertaking project schedule reviews, cost forecasting as well as working out the best way in which to overcome some of the obstacles that arise in a construction environment on a daily basis.

There are excellent opportunities for training and career development and my new role is a lot different to anything I’ve done before. I like being able to meet challenges, get the task at hand across the line and see the end result.

Diversity and inclusion

Zinfra has a strong culture around diversity and inclusion. We have a lot of women out in the field working on the tools which is great to see, and also a strong representation of women in leadership positions.

In terms of inclusion, it’s great that our leaders actively include the field team in business updates, consult with them so they receive information as needed and are driving career growth and development from the field teams. This open and transparent communication really helps our teams in the field feel included and part of something bigger.

Career opportunities

Becoming a construction manager wasn’t really something I had thought of previously but the people leaders I have worked with here at Zinfra have helped me realise my potential and explained how the new challenges this role can bring will further develop me and provide a future in the field that I love. All while being able to learn different aspects of our industry and for this I am grateful.

At Zinfra, I’ve been pushed outside my comfort zone in a positive direction and have been truly supported to take on these roles by both management and my colleagues. There are opportunities if you want them.

My advice for someone considering a role at Zinfra is to jump at the opportunity to join! Not many companies are willing to offer these kinds of opportunities for continuous growth and progression in your career. The company really backs you to do this. It’s a great place to work.