There are lots of reasons why people are drawn to Engineering – for Gavin Strid exotic locations such as Bangladesh, Kazakhstan and China were an opportunity that he couldn’t pass up.
Gavin joined SMEC’s international team almost thirty years ago, and since then has embarked on a varied and fascinating career that would be the envy of many.
Was travel a factor when you started your career?
“I joined SMEC in about 1989. I wanted to travel, to see the world, and the vast SMEC network provided a solid platform to do that. Back in 1989, traveling was a very expensive proposition, so this was a great opportunity to see the world and some far-off places whilst building my career.
“I’ve worked in Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, China, Burma, India and Bangladesh, sometimes for short projects and other times for longer stints of four or five years.”
What else do you love about a career in Engineering?
“No two days are the same in this job. You face problems and obstacles abroad that you would never even think of facing in Australia. From working with bureaucrats in developing countries to meeting new members of the office team, it’s always a new experience.”
What was your most memorable Engineering Project?
“At the time we were designing a new national highway from Siberia in Russia through Mongolia to the Gobi Desert in China and there was one house every 200 kilometers. It was a truly remote place, filled with snow-capped mountains and permanently frozen ground and the scenery along the foothills of the Altay mountains was like nothing I have ever seen.”
“It was the same in the Northeast of India where I worked throughout some of the most remote parts of India. We worked throughout the foothills of the Himalayas up to the borders of China and Myanmar. You end up going to places few have been to before.”
What is it like working in a team of Engineers?
“What is special about this job is the people you work with. You learn very quickly that we’re all the same, we all have the same ambitions and hopes.”
“We’ve set up our system all over the world so that when you come into a new country for the first time, there are people to support you and help you learn the lay of the land. The teams we put together are a combination of international and local experts, and we work together towards a common goal.”
“Some of my best memories are from celebrating birthdays and weddings and enjoying game days and social trips with our local teams. It is also the best form of team building.”
Does travel need to be in your blood to be an Engineer?
Gavin explains that life abroad isn’t something for everyone. He thinks it’s something the next generation of engineers should do at least once.
“It teaches you to be adaptable, how to work with people of other cultures and beliefs. It really opens your mind and broadens your horizon. There are a lot of benefits beyond the professional sphere. I believe it can help you grow into a better engineer and a better person.”
Gavin Strid is Chief Technical Principal, Project Management. He is based in Bangladesh but travels frequently to manage international projects. Gavin has 44 years of experience as a professional engineer and has worked with SMEC for 28 years across 16 countries.