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Parsons Brinckerhoff

A new life on the other side of the world can be a reality with Parsons Brinckerhoff’s global exchange programme

Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) is an employee-owned international consultancy employing 13,000 people worldwide. It has had a presence in the UK since the 1990s and now has 2,000 staff here working in three main sectors - energy, transportation and communities (predominantly building and environment).

The international aspect of the company gives engineers the opportunity to work overseas if they wish to, either through formal or informal arrangements, including a global exchange programme between Europe/Africa, of which the UK is a part and Australia.

The scheme is eligible to all employees, and works in both directions. Stewart Garden moved from Goldalming in the UK to Brisbane in July 2007. "My partner is an Aussie and we had talked about living in Australia for some time," he explains. "I was fortunate to have made a few contacts in Brisbane in my time at PB, which helped sell the move. The fact that there is an infrastructure boom here is a big attraction – there are some very exciting projects to work on." The lifestyle is another attraction. "The weather allows outdoor living almost all year round," he says. "The ocean is close by, with great beaches and good waves, plus the Aussie laid-back approach to life is very refreshing."

Garden joined PB’s Godalming office on a graduate training scheme in 2000 and sat his Chartered Professional Review in 2004. "I have worked on bridges for my whole career, starting with inspection and assessment work on motorway and rail bridges in the South East of England," he says. "I spent a year with PB in Manchester designing bridges on the A5 Weeford to Fazeley project for the Highways Agency and then spent three years on the implementation of Eurocodes, seconded part time to the Highways Agency."

Since arriving in Australia, Garden has led the design of nine new bridges on a railway infrastructure upgrade in North Queensland and is currently lead bridge designer for two zones on the Ipswich Motorway Upgrade (Dinmore to Goodna), an on-line motorway widening project to the west of Brisbane. "Many of the fundamentals are the same in Australia as the UK – it was quite easy to make the transition," he says. "However, the project delivery timescales are very short, and this does tend to lead to a more 'tried and tested' approach to bridge design than the UK, perhaps at the expense of innovation."

While Garden was moving from the UK to Australia, Carlos Amaya was making the move in the opposite direction. "I have moved to the UK from Melbourne, where I lived for almost nine years," explains the Colombian-born engineer. He is now a senior project manager within the energy solutions team in PB’s London office.

"I opted to relocate for both professional and family reasons," he says. "On a personal level, my wife and I have more family here and in Europe and we are that bit closer to Colombia. Professionally speaking, one of the attractions of working in the UK was the opportunity to gain further experience within the energy sector. As far as low carbon energy solutions and climate change are concerned, the UK is more advanced, due to the ratification of the Kyoto protocol much earlier than Australia.

"The work environment in the UK is very similar to that of the Melbourne office, although I have noticed that there are more people of different backgrounds and cultures in the UK than in Australia. Apart from missing friends and the good weather back in Melbourne, there haven’t been any major drawbacks to the relocation. My wife and I are enjoying raising a young family closer to home and relatives."

To find out more about working for Parsons Brinckerhoff go to ww.pbworld.com.

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