Working smarter, not harder at Rail Projects Victoria
Working smarter, not harder, is helping Rail Projects Victoria’s Managing Principal Lawyer Caitlin Sims meet both career and study goals. About six months into her role, she’s making the most of the flexible work arrangements at RPV.
“It was exciting to join the legal team because it has a stellar reputation within the Major Transport Infrastructure Authority,” Caitlin says. “It’s also great to be able to work a compressed week to fit around my Master of Applied Finance Degree.”
Caitlin works longer days four days a week, while Wednesdays are free to focus on her studies. The interest in finance comes from her close relationship with commercial teams on big projects, something that’s continuing at RPV. She also previously contracted to the Sydney Light Rail Project Co as the Commercial Manager.
“Over the years, knowledge of finance has come in handy, especially when dealing with Public Private Partnerships,” she says. “I’ve had some experience and have picked up what I could from commercial teams, and while I’ve had some great, helpful colleagues, I wanted to have something official that formalises my knowledge.”
Caitlin arrived at RPV late last year, after more than two years at Major Road Projects Victoria. Her time embedded with a project team there is something she describes as ‘brilliant’, because she was embraced by them from day one.
The project team got her involved in engineering, environmental and stakeholder issues in what she describes as a ‘one team approach’ and a ‘hothouse of inclusion’.
The approach at RPV is similar, Caitlin says. She has found herself embedded in the teams working across two projects at vastly different stages. “On the Metro Tunnel, we are integrating the management structures of the two alliance packages,” she says. “I’m also helping on Geelong Fast Rail. That gives me a nice balance, because Metro is in the thick of delivery while Geelong is in business case and starting up.”
Women in Construction
As a woman in the construction industry, Caitlin says it’s vital to have strong mentors and role models – whether they’re male or female. At RPV, she’s been impressed with the number of women in senior, influential positions.
“Even if they’re not direct mentors, being at an organisation where you have women in these roles speaks to the culture of the organisation,” she says. “It’s important and gives hope about career progression and prospects.
“Personally, I really like mentoring junior women. It’s always flattering to be asked to mentor someone. I’ve taken part in MTIA mentoring programs, but I think organic mentoring is just as valuable.”
Balancing between work and study
While work and study keep her busy during the week, Caitlin is equally active on weekends, working the house she bought a few years ago in Melbourne’s inner north.
“It’s charitably called a fixer-upper,” she laughs. “I’ve been having a red hot go at becoming a bit of a handywoman under the tutelage of a friend who’s an engineer. “I’ve learnt a lot about drainage systems and the like.”
The backyard has been remodelled with the advice of a friend who used to be a civil engineer, something Caitlin says has led to one of the best drainage systems in residential Melbourne.
“This project has been great during lockdown,” she says. “Some of my engineering colleagues have come along on the journey and are calling my yard the Carlton North Beer Garden!” – Alicia Byrne