For Sandra Cimpoesu, the Goulburn-Murray Water (GMW) Connections Project is an opportunity to work on the largest irrigation modernisation project in Australia. It’s also a chance for her to mentor the next generation of engineers and designers and pass down some of her vast knowledge.
Sandra graduated with a Masters degree in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering from the University Polytehnica in Bucharest, Romania. “I did a lot of work at complex power stations in Romania – the power stations are really based on water – until I came to Australia,” she said.
She worked for the private sector including Thames Water in Melbourne for several years, before accepting executive project management roles. These positions involved using her significant experience to deliver large scale infrastructure projects with major companies, like Melbourne Water’s $415 million Major Program Delivery and United Group Limited’s $512 million Alliance Delivery.
She is currently the Connections Project’s Early Contractor Involvement (ECI) Program Manager after joining the $2 billion project a year ago. Her role involves liaising with project contractor John Holland to ensure the delivery of targets as per contract obligations, as well as ensuring quality, safety and performance benchmarks are met.
Sandra said the project is vitally important for the Goulburn-Murray Irrigation District.
“I think it’s a very positive project, with a lot of high-calibre people working on it,” she said. “Water is a vital resource for the Australian community. It’s also really important to me in life to leave a legacy in the industry. I’ve got a lot of experience through the different jobs I’ve had, so it’s great to have the opportunity to pass my knowledge to other people.”
“The ECI team is a high performing team. Team members are self-driven and committed,” she said. “I like the fact that they understand the need of the project, because many are farmers or have a relative who is farming. It’s not having a professional initiative or interest, it’s an inherited commitment.
“I love working in the region. I also think the project is really important for the GMID, it’s securing the future for the region’s sustainability.”
Sandra also had some sage words of advice for anyone embarking on a career in engineering or project management.
“I would advise people to do as many project positions as possible,” she said. “Start with construction and handover so you understand what you need to do if you start on your own project and have to start from scratch.”
Sandra said it was important to use each opportunity to develop a wide base of knowledge.
“I don’t think you have to go every year to the next position; I think you should build your knowledge, make a difference and consolidate your knowledge and always work as hard as possible to make a project a success.”
“I was an immigrant, a female, and an engineer,” Sandra said. “I worked as a draftsman, and then I landed my first job as an engineer, working on procurement and contract management and since 1997 I’ve been working in project management.”
“My life has been very different than a lot of others. I’ve lived in four countries so far – Romania, France, Turkey and now Australia – It’s been very different than a ‘normal’ life but I’m very happy we call Australia home.”