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How an ‘Ask Your Mates’ post resulted in an asset management success story

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In August 2021, Nikhil Ajgaonkar shared a post on the IPWEA ‘Ask Your Mates’ forum.

Ajgaonkar, a civil engineer who was living in Sydney at the time, wanted to pursue a career in asset management but was finding his lack of experience outside the civil construction industry an obstacle.

As Ajgaonkar explained in his post, he wasn’t having any luck in job interviews for local government asset management roles despite his enthusiasm. He asked if any members of the forum could help him find work experience to bolster his CV, adding that he was happy to relocate.

The next day, the engineer received two responses to his post that would provide him with valuable assistance in establishing a career in asset management.

One was from Alison Ratliff, a civil engineer from Coffs Harbour, who advised Ajgaonkar to enrol in the IPWEA Asset Management Certification course.

“While much of your civil and construction engineering experience is useful,” she wrote, “asset management strategy is more focused on planning and budgetary activities. The certification course is a great introduction into the types of data and financial management required for asset management.”

She offered a final prescient piece of advice: “Regional councils have problems hiring asset strategists for a variety of reasons, so you might investigate regional options.”

The second post was from Geraldine Hollyman, the Asset Management Coordinator at Mount Isa City Council, a large mining town located in Queensland’s Gulf Country, nearly 2,000 kilometres north-west of Brisbane. 

Hollyman informed Ajgaonkar that her council was currently looking for an entry-level Asset Management Officer. She attached the position description and invited Ajgaonkar to email the HR department if he was interested in the position.

Ajgaonkar was quick to follow both pieces of advice. He completed the IPWEA Professional Certificate in Asset Management Planning in December and joined Mount Isa City Council in 2022

Ajgaonkar says the IPWEA course was incredibly useful, helping him bridge the gap between engineering and asset management and achieve his ambition to secure employment in local government. He has learned how to write effective asset plans and found the NAMS+ tool particularly valuable. “It creates various graphs and figures which are useful while writing asset plans,” he says.

In his time at Mount Isa City Council, Nikhil has been able to prepare asset management plans for roads and stormwater, which have passed all hurdles and has since been adopted by council.

For Hollyman, finding an enthusiastic candidate keen to gain industry credentials to fill the Asset Management Officer role was a resounding win for Mount Isa City Council. Once Ajgaonkar was enrolled in the course, she says she “was more than happy to give him the opportunity here for the practical experience in exchange for the theoretical practices that come through the IIMM focused studies.”

Hollyman says: “It is difficult to find people willing to learn and to keep them in an organisation that might not pay as well as the private sector.”

Hollyman is also a recent IPWEA graduate, having completed IPWEA’s Professional Certificate in Infrastructure Financial Management. She also found the course beneficial for the exposure to financial management principals it offers and “best practice guides to help engineers and financial professionals with intercommunication”.

Since completing the course, she says, “I have been more involved in asset revaluations for the use of financial statements and can start to understand and analyse the ratios as we report on them”.

Between securing a suitable candidate to fill a vacancy at her regional council and pursuing her own professional development, Hollyman says she is “grateful for IPWEA and all the asset management support it offers”.

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