My employment at Western Power was something of a happy accident. I was looking for a career change, and a recruitment agency suggested I apply for an administration role (which wasn’t really what I was after). Although I was skeptical about whether or not the job would suit me, after the first day I felt settled, right at home, and had identified a future role that would be perfect for me. After that, I never considered leaving.
There is no such thing as a typical week in Wayleaves. A large part of my job is speaking to farmers and other land owners to maintain the close relationships which are so important for our business. I can be at my desk, out on site looking at a potential route for cable/overhead line, at a different WPD office, or meeting with one of our key stakeholders. One thing that is constant is that I am able to manage my own work, and make my own decisions to plan my week. Generally my duties include agreeing compensation claims for land damage, meeting with and agreeing/negotiating new cable and overhead line routes, and locating/purchasing new substation sites. A large part of the role is liaising with the various stakeholders that need to be involved in the planning of our works; therefore the ability to communicate with all types of people is an essential skill for a Consents & Wayleave Specialist.
The best the about working at Western Power is the people. I have been with the company for over 13 years and in that time I have made some great friends. It is a large company, but because staff turnover is low, over the years it is easy to get to know a lot of people, which makes work feel a little like home.
Like any place of work, there is no one single culture throughout the company. Each office I visit is very different to the next. Within my team we have a very relaxed way of being. We can be focused when needed, but we also take time to catch up, have a chat and make each other laugh. We also have a strong focus on the team’s mental health and wellbeing, so we all look out for one another, and make time for one another. This camaraderie has helped make us quite a close knit group.
If you want to work hard and put yourself forward, then you can progress quite quickly within the company. Due to the size of the company, and the fragmented nature of the offices, networking is important, so a friendly approachable nature and the desire to learn really help.
Within 3 years of working for the company, I had progressed to (at the time) my dream job. Progression can be quick if you are willing to work hard, use your initiative and learn.
As a company with a fairly flat structure, and very good staff retention, in order to progress, it is necessary to differentiate yourself from your colleagues. Opportunities for progression do arise, but competition will be strong, so personal development is a must.
As far as development goes, there are many opportunities within the company to learn. There are a lot of very experienced people, who are very willing to pass on their knowledge. In addition to ‘on the job’ learning, I am currently studying toward a degree in surveying practice. Although the course is self-funded, my managers have really helped set me on the right track, and allowed me the flexibility to not just pass the course, but do a really good job of it. Without the support of my managers, it would have been difficult to enjoy the course as much as I have.
The first overhead line I agreed the wayleaves for, being built. It may have been many years ago, and seem like nothing now, but at the time, it was a really big deal for me. Trying to remember everything I needed to do, making sure all the consents were in place, and discussing the route with the landowners, seemed quite daunting at the time. Although it gets easier over the year, there is a huge sense of achievement in realising how far I have come, and how much I have learnt.
This is a difficult question to answer. I don’t think there has been one huge challenge that I would focus on most. I think my career with Western Power has been made up of a lot of smaller challenges. That is not to say they have been easy to overcome, but I often go home not really knowing how I am going to deal with something. Taking a step back can often be the key to finding the best way forward. So taking a step back, and communication – which I think is the key to pretty much everything, help me overcome most things.
There are very few companies that offer the benefits, work/life balance and career prospects that Western Power does. It is a great place to work, and you can have a job for life.