Court

Katoomba Courthouse

Back at the end of September I got to spend a day in court. I know what you’re thinking, but I’m innocent. Really! I know they all say that, but I am. Yes. Innocent.

It was an interesting day, so I thought I’d share some thoughts about it. First, here’s some background.

We bought our car (Jeffrey) last June. After deciding to get something a few years old, and then understanding better how prices and depreciation are a bit different over here to in the UK, we ended up buying him brand new. I’ve not had a brand new car before, so we were obviously very careful driving him about, and like slightly over-protective parents. About 4-6 weeks later in July we drove him to the Blue Mountains for a Rockies club climbing trip. We parked him nice and safe in a space in a car park in Blackheath, and went off for a coffee and bacon and egg roll. When we came back, there was a note attached to the door handle, and a big dent in most of the front passenger door. To say we were not impressed is a large understatement!

The note was from a witness, not the pupretrator. We took lots of photos, and spoke to another guys in the car park who has also witnessed the incident. We reported it to the insurance company, who wanted us to pay the excess until they knew who had done it. We decided to wait for the police to sort that rather than pay up and have the unenviable job of getting money back from an insurer! On Monday after work we went and reported it to the Sydney police too, who took a statement from me. That was a pretty informal over the counter thing. Eventually this got passed up to the local police to investigate, and I spent a lot of time chasing them up about it.

Eventually, about 9 months later, the perpetrator was confirmed to the insurance company and they paid up to fix poor Jeffrey, who needed as whole new door. According to the police the guy was found guilty in court, and we thought it was all done and dusted.

But then……

Whilst I was in Brisbane working, Matt called to say I had a Court Subpoena with one week notice. And it wasn’t even a local court, but in Katoomba, 2 hours west of Sydney. I was due to be back in Brisbane that week, but the note on the bottom of the letter said if I didn’t go I could be arrested. So, after a lot of phone calls (mainly unanswered) I finally spoke to the police who said I had to go. I didn’t really think I was a very good witness as Matt parked the car and we didn’t actually see anything, but apparently it was important I went and said it was OK when we parked it and that it wasn’t when we got back.

While I was waiting around I got to meet the other two witnesses, both retired guys who live up in the mountains and has been off bushwalking when the car got hit. We weren’t allowed to talk about the case, but had a good chat about climbing and England!

In the end I had to wait about 2.5 hours before they called me in. You get a choice of oaths to God, or not God which was interesting. The magistrate told me everything was being recorded. She asked me a couple of times to slow down as apparently the recording was only for after the event, and she was taking notes. She as pretty grumpy in general, being quite abrupt with everyone there, seemed pretty unimpressed at the prosecutor and even shouted at the police officer at one point for shuffling his papers!  It was pretty stressful, even though I didn’t do anything wrong! My evidence probably only lasted 10 minutes.

I could have gone after giving my evidence, but having given up the day to go there I  thought I’d stay and see what happened, so listened to the other witnesses which was interesting. The defendant defended himself, which probably wasn’t a great choice as he didn’t seem to have much idea how the whole thing worked. He asked me a few questions, one of which wasn’t actually a question (which the magistrate pointed out) and the other was about why one of the witnesses did something, which obviously I didn’t know!

Apparently the defendant was found guilt the first time, but only had short notice about the hearing so hadn’t been able to attend. Because of that, and a few other things they went ahead with a re-determination and so needed all the witnesses. There were quite a few things in the defendants story which didn’t stack up, but I won’t write the details on here.

It was a really interesting experience, and despite all the evidence nobody will ever know with100% certainty if he was guilty or not, apart from him (and the person who did do it, if he was indeed innocent).

We adjourned for an hour over lunch, and then came back into the court room and waited for the verdict. All in the magistrate summed up what she heard and what she believed to be true (e.g. that we parked the car and it was fine and that it had a big dent when we came back). It took about 20 minutes to go through it all. In the end he was found guilty of tow offences – reversing carelessly and failing to report an accident.

The maximum fine was $2,200 per offence, but he got the same fine he originally had, which was about $400. I’m not sure why. He had to also pay costs, which were $80 – pretty reasonable I thought. I got refunded costs of driving there, lost work time and lunch, but apparently that comes from general taxation, not the guilty party.

All in it was an interesting experience, and Jeffrey is all fixed, so the story has a happy ending.

 

18. June 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Ramblings · Tags: ,

Back in late May we moved house. The two part video tour of the new place is coming soon. Ahead of that I thought I’d just write a little bit about moving.

Firstly, terminology. I always say moving house – I guess because I have generally lived in houses. But actually we moved from a flat to a flat. But you know what I mean. (In fact, taking the terminology thing even further, the technical Aussie term for our place is a unit. Someone once explained the difference to be between a unit, flat and an apartment, but I don’t remember. Feel free to enlighten me if you know).

When I got back from the UK in early May we started looking at places as we we’re bored of our view of other flats, the noise of the builders, and paying for a third bedroom of space that we didn’t really need. I explained before, flat hunting in Sydney is a horrible process of looking around places in a 15 min window, with a ton of other people, generally on a Saturday morning.

We were aiming to get a water view, or at least a better view. On the first Saturday we looked at three places, the current one we got being the last we saw. There were probably about 20 other people nosing about. I instantly liked it, and thought maybe it was even a bit under-priced, even though the sneaky agent arranged the viewing when there were track works so you couldn’t hear the noise from the train line out the back. We put in an application, but expected someone else to pay over the price so we wouldn’t get it (but we did!). It has a very green outlook, not the water view we wanted, but it’s very good and having a hot tub is very cool!

We said we would get someone to move us to avoid the faff of lifts, but in the end the process were too high, so we bribed some mates with beer (thank you!) and hired a van. We also decided to hire these Boomerang Boxes, so we didn’t need to bother buying and selling or scavenging a load of boxes. They were very convenient and the two sizes stack nearly together, they are nice and tough and they came with wheely dolly which made moving 4 or 5 of them at a time nice and easy. I’d definitely use something like that again. We also hired a trolley with the van for $15 which was great for the stuff like the fridge and washing machine.

Boomerang Boxes

Boomerang Boxes

 

When we moved into our first flat we had two suitcases each, so it was very easy! The removal people bought the things off the ship and we gradually bought things ourselves or ordered big things and had them delivered. On actual moving day there were a few differences with moving in the UK I noticed, like:

  • In the UK you hope it won’t rain. Here we hoped it wouldn’t be too hot. It was late autumn and I was still in shorts and a t shirt
  • We moved from flat to flat so had to take all our stuff don in the lift which was a pain. Luckily our new place is entrance level so we only had one set of lifts
  • You often can’t park outside your place because in a flat you don’t get your own drive way. We did fairly well with parking spots, and for once being near the builders paid off when we moved one of their cones and snuck into a space next to their work site once they had finished for the day.
  • When you’re happily driving your van, remember not to park in a convenient space against the direction of traffic or you’ll get a $165 fine

Apart from that it’s still a lot of effort and you’ll end up needing wine and a take away by the end!

Stay tuned for the video tour.

Hot tub!

Hot tub!

Unemployment = baking!

Unemployment = baking!

Following on from my first two posts about redundancy and unemployment, here and here, the final one in the series is about careers and job hunting.

As most of you will know, I’m very career focused, driven, motivated by work and probably at times a workaholic (which is pretty helpful in bidding really). I didn’t just want another job, I wanted to progress my career. When I took redundancy I had the option of either relocation money or ‘Career Transition Services’ which was basically help with things to get a new role sorted. I took this up as we were trying to stay in Oz, rather than relocate back to the UK.

I had a helpful coach called Brook, and we covered a lot of useful things including career planning, doing a Birkman psychological profile to delve into my work styles, practice interviews on video, having my CV ripped apart and negotiations. As well as the one on one sessions, the service included a series of seminars which I attended, covering recruiters, business information on the internet and networking. The business information one was particularly interesting and I learnt about some services to get good background information on companies.

Alongside the career services, I spent a lot of time hunting down a new job both using official job adverts and other channels. In between all the meetings, calls and CV updates I didn’t really have much time for dossing at all!

So here are some tips about job hunting, from my experience and the coaching I had:

  • Don’t wait until you’re redundant or quit to look for a new job. The sooner you can start the sooner it will be sorted. For the last few weeks in my old job, I literally had nothing to do any more, so made the most of the time to get on the case sorting out a new role (both internally or in a new company).
  • Work out what you value in a job / career. What’s important to you? It might be making achievements, helping others, having a lot of autonomy, working in a team, being able to be a leader, having a great work life balance, all sorts. Once you know what’s important to you, you can ask the right questions in interviews (yes, definitely go to interviews with questions to ask them), and assess each job against these values.
  • Most jobs are actually found not through official channels like job adverts. I was told this, and thinking back on my career it rings true for me. So when you are hunting for a role make the most of your network as well as job adverts. Its the old thing about who you know, not what you know. Ask your contacts if they know of any jobs in their company. Or do they know anyone in another company it would be worth you talking to? Go and drink a lot of coffees with people who might be able to help you. I got my new job through working my network.
  • Update your Linked In. Make it focused around your responsibilities, so recruiters and head hunters can easily match it to any job specifications they have. Make sure it has a photo as they’re easy to ignore otherwise.
  • Know that sometimes you will have to turn things down and have the conviction to do it. Sure, you need a job. But set a time limit where you will go for the right job, and only if you’re struggling to find that, then accept something else. You don’t want to get stuck in an organisation or role you’re not going to want to stick with if you don’t have to. (But remember, even if you turn something down, keep in touch with the people, and thank them for their help as who knows when you might meet in future!)
  • Sometimes you have to be really patient. This isn’t a strength of mine, but a few times I got to a point where all I could really usefully do was wait for people to phone me back. It’s incredibly frustrating as you want to be proactive, but sometime you just need to go and meet a friend for lunch or sit on the beach! Embrace the opportunity to not do a lot – once you;re back in a job you’ll miss it!
  • Try and keep positive. Enough said on that really.
One of my unemployed hangouts

One of my unemployed hangouts

Welcome to part 2 of the redundancy series, this time on being (temporarily) unemployed.

In the end I was unemployed for about two months, plus a couple of weeks in my old job where I technically had nothing to do apart from sort out my (potential) redundancy. The time went very quick, although seemed to drag at the beginning. It took 5 weeks from applying for our new visa for it to come through, during which time I couldn’t work. We didn’t know how long it would take, and it could have been 4 or 5 months. About two weeks after officially getting my redundancy I was signed and sealed for my new job which was great, but I couldn’t start until the visa came through. I used the time to visit the UK for a good few weeks, which you can read about over here. Once the visa got granted (while I was on holiday in the UK) it was a huge relief, and I could make the most of my time off as I knew when it would end.

Whilst I was still in Australia, the job hunting and career planning sessions kept me very busy, with all the prep and follow ups. At first I also kept pretty busy around the house, cleaning, tidying, sorting out cupboards and that kind of thing. That got old pretty quickly though so I managed to fit in some nice lunches, baking and trips to the park and beach as well. Although I did get a redundancy payment, we didn’t know when I’d be able to start work again, so I didn’t really want to sped much money. It was pretty scary to not know when we’d be back on two incomes again.

I am a very achievement focused, hard working kind of person, so I thought I might get quite fed up not working. In truth I did, and I’m glad there was a light at the end of the tunnel pretty soon when I knew I had a new job lined up. It was odd not really having any particular purpose and reverting to getting the dinner on the table, which didn’t really use enough brain power or include enough social interaction for my liking. But then now I am back a work and I do have a purpose, its really just making money for a big company. But it does pay the bills, which looking after rescued wombats wouldn’t so I’ll just get on with it!

Even with my temporary taste of unemployment, I got an insight into the world of the long term unemployed which must be totally rubbish. Sometimes I’d be in the city in the day time and see all the people in suits rushing about. It seemed a bit like an inaccessible different world. I missed having people to talk to during the day at work. I wondered if they were looking at me wondering why I wasn’t working, like I used to do when I saw people out having long lunches and sitting in the park in the day time.

Overall I managed to mask being fed up pretty well and enjoy the break with low-cost adventures around Sydney and then in the UK. I enjoyed the lack of stress not working, and felt very relaxed. It made me realise how much I think about work even when I’m not at work. I’m going to try and get better at separating the two. I was slightly nervous about going back to work after nearly 3 months not working properly, but it turns out its all fine. The hardest thing is getting up in the morning!

 

Note from my boys saying they don't want to go to England!

Note from my boys saying they don’t want to go to England!

Back in early February, during a work trip to New Zealand, our team got the jaw droppingly shocking news that our funding had been cancelled and so we were all facing ‘potential redundnacy’ (HR technical term). Things were a bit shaky back on November but then picked up, so this was a total bolt out of the blue. I’m going to do a few posts about it. This one will be on the redundancy process, including my thoughts and feelings about that and some tips for anyone facing job loss. In some future posts I’m planning to discuss career planning and job hunting, and then one on the musings of an unemployed person. So without having a big old moan, in summary the process was handled pretty poorly. I did give constructive feedback to the Directors about this, so hopefully it’s better in future. It was without doubt the most stressful experience of my life. Sure, things like buying a house is stressful, and getting married is a whole world of planning, but this is a new level. Those things are pretty binary, you commit to doing them and get on with it. I wasn’t definitely going to be redundant. After almost two weeks of thinking I would be, I got offered a new job internally, but it was pretty different to my old one. So I could do that and stay, or accept redundancy – it was up to me. There were so many different decisions and internal politics and a massive range of possible outcomes from deportation to a few kinds of mediocre and happily ever after that at times it was overwhelming. A few things combined to make it horrible, notably:

  • The initial surprise, anger and sadness
  • The lack of information internally and satisfactory answers to questions
  • The delay in being offered a new internal role
  • The many possible outcomes (and how one decision could either go very well or very badly depending on too many unknown things)
  • The potential for deportation, which although it would make a good pub story in future, wasn’t very palatable
  • Me being a thinker (worrier) at the best of times, which meant I got a bit sleep deprived
  • Having my decision impact in Matt in a pretty big way
  • The whole rubbishness of it for the rest of my team who were awesome and
  • Being royally messed about on a couple of occasions

Anyway, in all we weren’t ready to come back to the UK after only a year. And although we would have got relocated back by my work, I’ll be coming back on my own terms when in ready, not when I’m forced! (So there!) So, early on we made the decision to fight to stay. It’s just how that panned out that was the uncertainty. Would Matt’s work sponsor him? (Yes). Would I find another job internally? (Yes). Could I get another job somewhere else that I wanted in a reasonably quick time? (Yes) Would I get a fair redundancy settlement? (I suppose). Should I just give up and have a baby? (No!) It all worked out OK for us, as you know.

Redundancy flowchart

Redundancy flowchart

 

So, from the other side, here’s some tips if you end up facing a redundancy process, in no particular order.

1. Be informed – know your rights and facts: In psychological profile terms I’m an ‘activist’. It made me feel better to do (useful) things rather than sitting about being miserable. So I spent a fair bit of time researching the law, employment rights, taxation on redundancy, new jobs, all that sort of thing. In the end I knew more about some things than the HR team! Plus, sometimes making cakes is the most useful thing you can do!

2. Talk to other people: I read some good websites about redundancy and a lot of them say often people try and sort everything out themselves, by themselves, without any help. This is a bad plan! I can see though if you’re the family breadwinner, maybe with some kids and want to keep your macho image it can be hard talking about your situation. But, the more people who know, the more likely you are to get some good advice, leads in new job, general motivational words of wisdom and whatever other support you need. It’s not you the company’s getting rid if, it’s your job so there’s no reason to feel like a failure.

3. Accept help: This is a crappy time, so take some help if you need it. It might be a pint or giant glass of wine and chat with a mate, a box of tissues, giant cake, talk about career options and contacts or even sleeping tablets! For me the main stress was about two weeks, and then things got better. Our team worked really well together when we did have work to do, and really pulled together throughout the redundancy process. So much so, work were quite surprised. I’m really grateful to and proud of my old team for how we all got through it.

4. Look at the opportunity: This sounds cheesy, but it is true. Losing your job is a good opportunity to take stock, evaluate and get stuck into something else. To quote the Manager of the Great Marigold Hotel ‘It’ll be all right in the end. And if it’s not all right, it’s not the end.’

5. Draw a giant flow chart if you need to! I ended up so confused I did indeed make a giant chart of all the options. It did help get my thinking straight and down on paper. I still had to make the decisions though.

6. Consider calculated risks: In the end my flow chart showed I could basically either play it safe for a mediocre outcome, or take a risk and get either deported or happily every after. It was a tough one, and I spent ages weighing it up. In the end, by the time I had to go down the redundancy path I was fairly happy we’d get a visa through Matt’s work and had a good solid lead on a new job. Obviously everyone’s circumstances are different. Good luck!

Quote from our Youth Hostel in Melbourne

Quote from our Youth Hostel in Melbourne

On our mammoth Summermas holiday I spent some time reflecting why I like travelling and seeing new places. The hostel we were in in Melbourne had a lot of people in their 20s with maps and leaflets who generally seemed to be off on adventures as well.

I was tempted by a gap year before Uni but never had one, safe I knowledge I could go travelling later. But despite a lot of excellent holidays and short trips, I never really did the whole travelling adventure thing. Maybe that explains our emigration now.

I enjoy seeing new places and also meeting new people when I’m brave enough to talk to them and not all British and reserved! I’m not really sure why, I just find it a stimulating experience to see new places and do new things and I have just a general curiosity about other places in the world. Maybe that’s my inner geographer. I think you can learn a lot from seeing other places and different ways of doing things, thinking and living.

So I don’t really have a conclusion other than I like seeing new places and hope I can carry on doing it for a long time! The worlds a big place after all.

12. March 2014 · 2 comments · Categories: Ramblings · Tags:
This may look exciting but it tastes wrong!

This may look exciting, but it tastes wrong!

So I realise a lot of the stuff on here is fairly positive about being in Australia. And don’t get me wrong, we are loving it. However, for some balance thought I’d have a bit of a whinging Pomm moment and tell you some of the less good stuff about living over here. So here we go, in no particular order:

  1. Obviously our friends and family are far away and I miss doing stuff with them.
  2. The TV is generally rubbish. I’m not one to schedule viewing time so the chances of finding anything decent on are low. On the plus side this does mean we spend less time I front the box (or possibly more money renting films!)
  3. It gets very hot – 33 degrees is currently officially too hot for me! You will burn in the sun very quickly, even when you don’t think you will. You need to wear a lot of sun cream and I hate the feel of it. Beats skin cancer though.
  4. Dairy milk tastes different and you can’t get Marmite (these are serious problems, along with the fact pubs don’t generally serve you vinegar to have with your chips)
  5. You pay to see the doctor and really need private health insurance. Luckily for us at the moment on our visas we get the insurance subsidised through Matts work, which saves us about $200 a month. Although this would be expensive otherwise it is easy to get a doctors appointment – none of this come in in 15 minutes (but I’m at work) or three weeks next Thursday business.
  6. There are a lot of flies in the countryside and they are irritating. Nobody really mentions this before you come. Maybe cork hats help.
  7. Things bite you and it itches a lot. Some of them might kill you (although I’ve not seen anything deadly yet – I don’t think!)
  8. House hunting generally means getting to a 15 minute time slot, on a weekend, with a bunch of other people.
  9. All the abbreviations (see here). I like these but my inner English teacher does die a bit inside every time someone says Ambo, Garbo or Firey. Then again I can see myself adopting these over time and then everyone in the UK will laugh at me!
  10. There is a lot of road kill about. Not only does this make me sad, you run a pretty high risk of whacking something eventually and doing some serious car damage.
  11. Sorting things out in the UK like calling the bank or mortgage company has to be done at night because of the time difference.Generally I can’t be bothered with this after a day at work!

All in all though we’re still loving Oz and all the things I rave about in pretty much every post!

Anything in particular getting you down about your country at the moment?

firework

Happy New Year blog fans!

Hope you’re all having a fab time. We are currently down in Tasmania away from lots of computers at the moment, so I wrote this in advance and scheduled it (like a lot of the posts).

I suppose as well as a big party its natural to reflect at New Year on how the year has gone, what you’ve been up to and what lies in the year ahead.

So last year started with an excellent M themed fancy dress party with our friends The Pauls from round the corner in Horsham. Not only did we have outfits, staying awake till gone midnight was a pretty good achievement as we landed back from New Zealand that day with some serious jetlag. It seems like ages ago now – this year has gone so fast!

Obviously a lot has changed with our move over to Sydney on 11th Feb, both starting new jobs and setting up in a new flat including buying a lot of new furniture and bits and pieces (and new Short family member Jeffrey the car). It’s all going well here which is great and I’m glad we were brave enough to come. Time will tell what happens next.

Instead of New Year Resolutions, here are some wise words to think about (I couldn’t choose one!)

‘Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it…unless is agrees with your own reason and common sense.’

‘We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.’ 

‘You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.’

26. October 2013 · Write a comment · Categories: Ramblings · Tags:
Entrance to Mantra Yoga

Entrance to Mantra Yoga

Since coming to Sydney I’ve been getting into yoga, so I thought i’d write a bit about it.

In the UK I was a member of the Horsham Leisure Centre and a fan of fitness classes, which I tried to go to a few times a week. Gyms I find super boring, I like to be fit and don’t get enough exercise without some sort of structured exercise. My favorite class was Body Combat – the music was good, it was high energy and I liked letting off some steam pretending to hit / kick whoever had recently irritated me!  I also enjoyed Body Balance, which they call a mix of yoga, tai chi and pilates. I have a dodgy back, so tried to go along to help strengthen that.

Here is Sydney we have a gym in the basement but its even more boring than a regular gym as there’s no screens or windows. Yoga seems quite big over here, and there is a center less than 10 minutes walk from our flat so I thought i’d give it a go. An intro two week pass for 5 classes was a bargainacious $20, so I couldn’t go wrong really. Since then i’;ve been going 2-3 times a week and would like to do more if I wasn’t at work or had the motivation to get up for the 6.30am class!

For those of you who know anything about Yoga I do both Hatha and Vinyasa yoga. Both are in a warn room at about 28 degrees to help get your muscles warm, but not so hot you dehydrate or sweat massively. The Hatha has more static poses which you hold for a long time, the Vinyasa is more dynamic with flowing moves. 

I really enjoy the yoga, and would encourage everyone to give it a try. I do miss Body Combat for more extreme cardio, but don’t really want too join the soul-less Fitness First down the road just so I can do it!

Here are some of the reasons why I like yoga…

  1. Its good exercise: Both for stretching and toning up your muscles and a bit of cardio action too . For me specifically its also good for my back.
  2. It helps with breathing: I used to have asthma and very much breathe from my chest not my abdomen which sometimes makes presenting hard, as I gasp. I’m using yoga to teach me to breathe properly
  3. Awesome people: I don’t know a lot of people who do yoga, but those I have been fortunate enough to get to know are all lovely, kind hearted and exceptionally friendly individuals. This includes the teachers.
  4. It makes me less stressed and more happy: Both the postures (asanas) themselves and the bit where you live on the floor relaxing for 10 mins at the end of most of the classes! After a yoga class both my body and mind feel great 🙂
  5. You can do it yourself at home: I’ve not really done much of this yet, but all you need is a mat and you can practice where you like

Later on I’ll do another post about the Mangrove Yoga Ashram which I went to stay at for a few nights recently. 

Have you done yoga? Did you like it? Why not give it a go?

Recently I’ve had to explain what I do at work to people a few times. If you ever wondered, here’s an interview style guide to being a Proposals Manager.

Whats your job title?

I am a Proposals Manager (sometimes called a Bid Manager).

Who do you work for?

I work for Balfour Beatty Australia, who also own Parsons Brinckerhoff which more people in Australia have heard of. For the bids going on at the moment we have teamed up with Transfield Services to form a Joint Venture called RoadsPlus. Its all about RoadsPlus for me!

Where do you work?

I work in World Square in Sydney city centre most of the time. Its about 30 mins door to door from our flat, so pretty good.

What’s the point of your job?

Well….in one sentence – to prepare winning bids for road maintenance contracts with state Governments and local Councils.

What’s road maintenance?

Its sexy stuff. Basically it involves a whole host of things to keep roads open and running smoothly, including: filling potholes, bigger carriageway repairs, sign cleaning, gulley (drain) emptying, resurfacing, small improvement projects, grass cutting, responding to traffic incidents, developing asset management strategies, doing designs and some stakeholder consultation.

Who does all this at the moment then?

At the moment State Governments and Councils do this themselves. But they all need to make cuts and savings, so by bringing in private sector companies like RoadsPlus who are experts in this they can make savings. In the UK these services have been outsourced for a long time, so we bring a lot of experience in how to do it very well.

How do the bids work?

Normally there are two or more stages. The first is an Expression of Interest (EOI). This is normally fairly simple. The client says what they want and sets out some questions. We reply to express our interest and tell them why we’d be good for the job. The client then selects a shortlist of people for the second stage which is normally a Request for Tender (RFT). For the tender there are normally some more technical questions, a large price element and some commercial and legal aspects too. As proposals manager I am in charge of the non-price elements (called ‘Quality’ in the UK). Sometimes either during the RFT or after you also get to have client meetings and presentations, which I really enjoy.

One of our recent bids was epic. We did 6 copies in musician roady style massive cases. The proposal in each one had over 580,000 words!!

Epic bid

Epic bid

How much are the bids worth?

Its big money. Typically the contracts are around $30m – $100m per year (depending on the size of the network) for 5 to 7 years.

What do you do most days?

The bid process is quite well defined, so it really depends what phase of the bid we are in. Normally I spend my time split between working on my computer with emails and writing and having meetings. Things I get up to include: reviewing all the client documents so we understand what we have to do; brainstorming and planning out our bid response; getting a team together the write the responses; managing them to do that; writing some bits myself; gathering evidence; arranging and doing reviews of drafts; putting questions to the client; having regular update meetings with the team and working with our production team on the ‘look and feel’ of the response.

What do you like most about your job?

I really enjoy my job for a lot of reasons. I love a challenge and like a healthy amount of stress, so the bid process and its regular deadlines works well for that. The team we have is really great and I enjoy working with them to get a good bid together, and make a better solution than any of us could have individually. We work hard but have great banter and of course lunches and biscuits! I like having the opportunity to work with clients and really understand what they want. I learn a lot every day, be it about something our company has done, something geeky about asphalt or from some of the other random things I get involved in like marketing. The variety is really good. I also enjoy knowing we put together a really good offer, which could actually make services better and spend tax payers money more wisely. RoadsPlus is a new company in Australia, so bringing all the experience fro overseas is a really exciting thing to be doing.

Whats the worst bit of your job?

The hours can be pretty long, especially coming up to deadlines, which also makes for a bit of an unhealthy diet! Because I’m an impatient person waiting for the results is also agonizing, but its teaching me to be more patient. Of course not winning is also rubbish, but hopefully that doesn’t happen too often.

How are the bids going at the moment?

Since coming to Australia we have put in two EOIs for contracts in SE Queensland and Sydney and we were shortlisted on both, beating some fairly stiff competition which is great! We have put in two full bids for each of these now, and am waiting with crossed fingers for the results soon!

So now you know what I do! Any more questions I forgot?

Paul&Bex2

Today is a Big Day.

Our awesome friends Rebecca Paul and Paul Lismer (the ‘Pauls’) from the UK are getting married! We’re pretty sad we can’t be there to share their big day, so here’s a little tribute to them on their wedding day.

Here’s 5 reasons they are awesome friends…

1. They have excellent party hosting skills – with copious gin and cocktails – even though this is slightly hazardous for Paul who once almost cut his finger off slicing lemons, turned all white from blood loss and managed to get it on the ceiling!

2. Bex makes awesome food, especially cake! Pretty much anyone who feeds me nice cake will be my friend for a long time.

3. They have awesome taste in Board Games. We shared many happy evenings pretending to be zombies eating braaaaaaaaaaaaains

4. They were good enough to move only 2 minutes walk from our house, producing uber convenient socialising opportunities on the correct side of the Horsham railway line and

5. They have a shed load of our things stored in their attic and only threatened to keep them all once! (Thank you guys!)

HAPPY WEDDING DAY Paul and Bex! xxx

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Today is Thursday 7th February, my last day at work in the UK. We had leaving drinks and pizza last night which was good, but today I am knackered and think i’m getting a cold again – boo.

Our stff all got shipped on Tuesday, in official Crown boxes – see below. 

Re-packed boxes

Re-packed boxes

 Recently I’ve been getting two comments quite a lot.

Firstly, “You must be very excited now its getting so close.”

Yes, we are both excited. At the moment there is such a pile of stuff to sort out, things to pack, re-home, forms to fill in and so on, that its hard to see past all that and get properly excited! The move has such an amount of momentum now, I’m not sure ther fact we are actually going to go and work in another country for a fairly long space of time has properly sunk in! On the one hand it seems to have been taking aaages to get everything sorted, but on the other it has flown by.

A couple of weeks ago I had a cold and was just totally fed up with all the packing and sorting. But then I thought back to the reasons I applied for the job I got in the first place, why I want to go and work abroad and how excited I was when I got offered it, and I remeber how exciting it is! The reality of leaving our friends and family and all the things we are familiar with is turning out to be a bit hard, but ther’s no going back now, and I’m sure it will be a brilliant massive adventure!

And the second comment – “I’m so jealous!”

This was the one I really wanted to write about because I can 100% identify with it. You see, for ages I wanted to go and work overseas but never really thought about it enough to do anything about it. I suppose I thought one day something would magically land on my lap. Every time someone I knew went and did it I was envious of them, but there always seemed to be some reason or other why I couldn’t go myself.

Then last year, we had a bit of a proper think about it and decided if this was something we truly wanted to do, then now was the time. I got my act together and put all my effort into finding a job somewhere we would like to live. And Matt has now got a job too. Moving overseas to work is my no means an easy thing to do, especially if you own a house to sort out, but if its what you want to do, then it’s totally achievable!

So, if you really are jealous, why not do something about it? Go on!

Maybe have a think about what you are jealous of though. Are you committed enough to ttoally move away, or maybe a long holiday would be better? Although more immersive from a  cultural point of view, working in another country is not going to be fun all the time. We will have bills to pay, taxes, commutes to work, actual busy jobs and only 20 days holiday a year. But then there are evenings, weekends and plenty of Bank Holidays to get out and about enjoying a new place.  

Obviously it’s not just moving over seas either. If you want to achieve something – GO FOR IT! No matter how small. Remember January 1st? Did you make a New Year’s resolution? Have you done it yet? Chances are, nobody is going to go after your dream for you and serve it up on a plate!  

What do you want to achieve this year?

As you might expect from someone with a PhD, I do a fair amount of thinking – not necessarily about anything particularly meaningful, insightful or earth shattering – just kicking ideas and questions (mainly questions) about in my brain. And there are normally more questions than answers!

As well as updates about our emigration and adventures in Australia, I thought we could use the blog to post a range of other things too, including bringing you some of the ideas rattling about in my brain.

This week I have been thinking about culture.

My brother has lived in Germany for a couple of years now, with his German girlfriend who he met when the both lived in the UK. We were discussing the differences between the UK and Germany recently and it got me wondering about culture. The identity kind, not the Tate Modern kind. We’ve also been watching some relevant programmes for research purposes, like Crocodile Dundee 1 and 2 and ‘Phil Down Under’.

What does it mean to be British / from Britain?

How British am I? (Have I got a load of cultural traits I don’t even realise which will mark me out?) 

What is Australian culture really like? (Am I going to have to start being interested in sport?)

Will they get our sense of humour and vice versa?

What’s the right balance between integrating into a new culture and maintaining your cultural heritage / ‘roots’?

What are the things we will end up really missing from home and wondering how we ever lived without?

Pasties - Pretty British I reckon. Yum.

Pasties – Pretty British I reckon. Yum.

I’d like to think I have my own identity and am not too much of a stereotype. But then again I like eating pies in country pubs, have a tendency for cynicism (negativity you may say), talk about the weather a fair amount and get irritated when people don’t observe the rules of orderly queuing.

We’ve heard various things about Australia and its culture, but I don’t think you can get a proper idea about it before living there. Although in a lot of ways the UK and Australia are not too culturally dissimilar (compared to say Thailand, Japan, Kenya or Brazil) I’m expecting there to be quite a few differences that we probably haven’t even realised about yet.

I’m looking forward to a more laid back attitude and better work life balance, although I’m not sure how this will work out with my role managing bids. The whole point of bids is to win, by putting together the best (and cheapest) proposal and beating all the competition. Sadly you don’t do that by going to the beach at 5pm every day unfortunately. Unless all the competition go at 4.30pm, that would be good!

I’ll do another post when we’ve been there a while and let you know how its going!

Any thoughts on culture?