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Flush with opportunities

Published on Friday, 25 Jan 2013
Mike Clarke (left) and Brian Gillon say staff will get to see the whole project process.
Photo: Edward Wong
Leighton was also used to build Wynn Macau (right).
Photo: May Tse

There’s an air of excitement on the tour bus as it skirts the enormous site of what will become one of the world’s largest gaming resorts. Passengers peer over the fence as the tour guide spells out the details of the forthcoming Wynn Cotai.

As work commences on the new construction project, a whole regiment of engineers, architects and designers is preparing to make its mark on the Macau skyline. Design-and-build contractor Leighton Asia is looking to hire around 250 to 300 new staff for the project, with roles ranging from graduate level to senior project managers.

Building a casino is an exhilarating ride, according to Mike Clarke, operations manager at Leighton Contractors (Asia), who oversees Leighton’s Macau projects.

“There is greater variety on a casino project than a civil engineering project and I would say it moves a lot quicker,” he says. “For buildings, the variety of work can be immense. From heavy piling to excavation works to installation of surveillance systems to the guy who puts the final touches to high-quality decorative features – it’s a full range of disciplines and activities.”

Although innovative design-and-build contracts are becoming more common in the construction world, they are not the norm for major engineering projects.

"On a typical construction project, we’ll get the design delivered to us and we build it. But for Wynn Cotai, design is a big focus – we’re not just the builder. We are heavily involved in developing the detailed design. We have architects, building-services engineers and interior-design people and they will see the whole process from design to delivery,” Clarke says.

For engineers, it is a rare opportunity to truly shape a landmark. “Engineers like to work on something big and special,” Clarke says. “It looks good on their CV for their next job and for their  whole career.”

Leighton is drawing on its considerable experience with Wynn to deliver the project. “We were first engaged by Wynn Resorts back in 2004 to build the original Wynn Macau,” Clarke says. “This was followed by the Wynn Encore, which was completed in 2010.”

Brian Gillon, executive general manager at Leighton Contractors (Asia), says the firm’s engineers get to see the whole cycle of development.

“They have the opportunity to see and take part in the who understanding of project delivery,” he says.

For Leighton, recruitment for such a major project is never a casual affair. “We only employ people with a view to retaining them,” Gillon says. “We want our people to build their career with Leighton.”

Many of the earlier project teams involved with Wynn Macau and Wynn Encore moved to Leighton’s recently completed North Lantau Hospital project in Hong Kong – and a good number of those will return to the next Wynn project in Macau.

“This is a very good example of the career opportunities available,” Gillon says. “The construction manager at Wynn Encore, for example, became the project director for the North Lantau Hospital. That shows that engineers can eventually take responsibility for their own project.”

The outlook for construction is very strong, with no drop-off in activity foreseeable in the next five years, Gillon says. He adds, however, that the scope of work may shift slightly, from the building of mega-infrastructure projects to housing and hospitals.

“What attracts a lot of people into construction is the sense of achievement you get when looking back at the projects you have worked on,” Gillon says. “The other advantage of a casino project is that you can go back and use it.”

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