Please tell us about yourself

Mallika Kurup BE (Hons) – Electrical and Electronics The University of Auckland – Class of 2010, Electrical Engineer at AECOM Engineering talks about a rewarding career with AECOM The Auckland Electrification Project (AEP) which is a multimillion dollar scheme to upgrade the city’s rail network and it is a project AECOM graduate electrical engineer Mallika Kurup is proud to be part of.

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Tell us about your work. How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and uncommon career?

Mallika started at AECOM in January 2011 as a graduate electrical engineer in the Power Transmission and Distribution team – a role that involves the design of high voltage sub-transmission cables and rail earthing and bonding. As Auckland takes vital steps towards its goal of being the world’s most liveable city, Mallika is playing her part. Working as part of AECOM’s AEP team she is involved in the earthing and bonding design of stations, bridges and other metalwork that will ultimately deliver a modern, well connected, sustainable rail network for Auckland.

What do you like about your job?

She says, “The best part about working on this project is the opportunity to design, and also follow my design to construction as part of my secondment to the AEP site office.” “Field experience cannot be gained in lectures at University or by sitting in the office. There’s just no substitute for getting out and having hands on experience – this is crucial to the learning of any engineer regardless of their discipline.” “Working on a big project like AEP has also exposed to me to working with other disciplines within AECOM such as Structural and Geotechnical, and has helped me realise how each discipline is interlinked with one another. There are very few engineering projects which involve only one discipline and I believe an engineer in the industry must be knowledgeable in all different aspects and disciplines of engineering.”

What is AECOM? How does this experience help your career?

AECOM is a firm of engineers, planners, designers technical specialists, project managers, economists, architects, sustainability specialists and climate change strategists. As part of the AECOM team, Mallika is connected to a global network of 45,000 people which offers her access to a vast range of skills, knowledge and expertise, rewarding work and exceptional training and career opportunities. “Over the last two years I have been involved in AECOM’s graduate programme which provides me and my fellow graduates with the opportunity to develop our people skills and understand how the business really works. At University, students are so engrossed in understanding the technical aspect of engineering that they often miss out on other engineering skills such as communication, risk management and project management.” These topics are just some of the material that is covered as part of AECOM’s three year Growing Professional Skills (GPS) programme, designed to help bridge the gap between formal training and the workplace. It comprises a range of core competencies and recommended training, external site visits, technical seminars, internal and external training and brings graduates from different disciplines and different regions around New Zealand together to train alongside one another. The GPS programme connects them to local and global teams working in more than 125 countries to source a wealth of knowledge and experience.

Any words of advice to students?

Mallika is very positive about the work environment at AECOM. “My colleagues are always around to help and mentor me as I have progressed through my graduate programme. One of the best things about the company is that it’s not always about work. Through AECOM I have taken part in Round the Bays, Children’s Christmas parties, movie nights, morning teas, lunches and more!” Asked if she has one piece of advice for other graduate engineers Mallika says, “If in doubt, always ask! There is no such thing as a wrong question. If you are ever unsure about something always ask and never assume.”