Inspire : Public Works Sept Oct 2014
15 How did you rst start working in local government? I did some work experience in the third year and fourth year of university with Pittsworth Shire Council and got a feel for the type of work local government engineers were undertaking and I enjoyed it. After leaving University I went into consulting sector with a Toowoomba ﬁrm Creedon Reid & Associates (CR A). As a young graduate engineer I was thrown in the 'deep end' as most of us are when we leave university. In my role with CRA I was involved with str uctural engineering, civil and some geotechnical engineering. I dealt with a Toowoomba Regional Council development engineers and project engineers as a consultant for our clients and gained some further insights into Local Government. After nearly two years with CRA an Operations Engineer position came up in Ipswich City Council. The role focused on constr uction and maintenance management and it spanned across all the Council asset classes like water, sewerage, roads, stormwater, parks and recreation -- very diverse. As a young engineer, I thought getting the constr uction experience across a number of asset classes in local government would be a great way to better round out my experience and set a good platform for my career. I took that job two years out of university and entered and spent the next 18 years in local government working for six medium size and large Council's in Queensland and Western Australia. Have you seen the organisation change a lot in that time? I ﬁrst became involved in IPWEA when I was the Director of Engineering at Esperance in Western Australia, around the late 1990s. While there has certainly been some changes to the State Divisions since that time, the National organisation has changed profoundly. In fact it did not even exist until 1999 when it was created by the State Divisions to provide coordination at a National level. Over the past 14 years IPWEA Australasia has gone from a part time CEO to a multi-million dollar annual turnover with nine full time equivalent employees. The most recent major change was New Zealand becoming part of IPWEA last year. What have been your career highlights? I really enjoyed my time in Esperance. Being relatively isolated built a lot of ingenuity into the Council team. I think we achieved a lot of great outcomes for the community over the ﬁve years I was there. The Project Management of the Cairns Esplanade development for Cairns City Council would also have to be up there. It was a three-year $35m project, which was a major undertaking for the Council around 12 years ago. Another highlight was starting with AECOM, where I currently work as Technical Director. Being part of a large organisation and having the opportunity to be part of some large and challenging projects has been great. From an IPWEA perspective, probably the highlight was being elected to the role of Australasian President. That's been a great honour and it's an exciting time to take on the role. What will be the focus of your presidency? Diversifying our membership base locally and growing our inﬂuence globally are my key focus. Public works is not just about the engineers and engineering technical ofﬁcers. The work we do is relevant to a diverse range of professionals including town planners, ﬁnance ofﬁcers, environmental ofﬁcers, ﬂeet managers, construction and maintenance super visors etc. Our programs and focus will continue to broaden into key areas like sustainability that are relevant to a broad cross section of professionals. While local government will always be the core of our membership and our key focus, there are a lot of organisations in the private sector, which would beneﬁt greatly from our expertise and training. Internationally we need to build on the ground work which has been done overseas. With the Board's support we have now implemented an International Membership category and developed online training programmes and technology, which will also support overseas members. The engineering fraternity is getting signiﬁcantly older, so we need to renew our membership, diversify and also make it attractive to young professionals. A big focus for me as President will be keeping the young IPWEA strong and growing. ••• MICHAEL KAHLER Establishing a president Newly appointed IPWEA President Michael Kahler couples nearly two decades in local government with experience in consultancy. Here he talks to PWPro about his career and his plans for his presidency. MY CAREER A big focus for me as President will be keeping the Young IPWEA strong and growing. DOITONOUR ONLINE FORUMS: Visit goo.gl/sL4lCH to discuss this article. MORE TO ADD?
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