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Engineering a lasting career

Staff at Leighton say the firm offers a tremendous working experience.

"I have worked for Leighton for nine years. I love the company and would not choose any other," says Ivan Poon, sub agent on the North Lantau Hospital Project. He was also recently promoted to site agent for the Wynn Cotai project.

Poon's experience is an engineering fairy tale. He graduated from Melbourne's Monash University in 2002 with a degree in civil engineering and, after several years at a steel-working firm in Hong Kong, he joined Leighton.

He was attracted by Leighton's graduate engineer scheme, which gets engineers up to chartered status over three or four years.

As a graduate engineer, he worked on the Hong Kong Juvenile Training Complex, which involved the renewal of a historic building. He then moved to Macau on a casino team, but after one year was called back to Hong Kong for mandatory tender and design training. "As part of the tender training, we won the job for the Lai Chi Kok tunnel," he says.

Poon earned his chartered status in 2008 and returned to Macau to work on Wynn Encore, before moving back to Hong Kong in 2010 to work on the North Lantau Hospital.

While Poon graduated in civil engineering, he says he now loves the challenges of working on world-class buildings. Working on hospitals, casinos and training camps has given him a real flavour of the needs of different buildings.

The North Lantau Hospital, for example, featured just five CCTV cameras, while the average casino has thousands. Hospitals, meanwhile, have special requirements for the lead-lining of X-ray rooms, while casinos require numerous specialist systems.

Poon is currently working towards his Chartered Institute of Building professional qualification to formalise his chosen career direction in building engineering. He says, however, that being a civil engineer is not disadvantage on building projects. "We still have the foundation and the basic structure," he says.

Safety is a major concern for Poon, who says he appreciates working under Leighton's policies and rules.

"Leighton has much tougher standards of safety than other companies," he says. "We ingrain safety into all the work we do at Leighton. You cannot say that about all construction firms."