Construction manager Alex Von-Limont was recently awarded a Graduate Diploma of Strategic Leadership and an Advanced Diploma of Work Health and Safety through recognition of prior learning (RPL).
In the following case study, Alex takes us through his global civil construction career in the mining, marine, gas and oil sectors. He discusses his career highs and lows, how he found recognition of prior learning, the many ways it has helped his career, and how he is now going to use it to save $14,000 off the cost of an MBA.
Alex left school young due to tough times on the home front. After a year of finding his way through the beginning of life as an adult he completed some TAFE study and commenced a career in the construction industry. He then became a father at 18 and worked six days a week to support his young family and get ahead in his career.
Talk about growing up quick!
Eventually, realising he didn’t want to spend the rest of his life, ‘working on the tools, breaking my back.’ He decided it was time for some more study.
Nine years ago, Alex completed a Graduate Certificate in Project Management through the University of South Australia. He studied two subjects per semester while continuing to work hard on his career.
Alex says, ‘I kept working and working and basically I went from working on the tools, to leading a project, to managing part of a project, to then being promoted to superintendent and then construction manager.”
His career has given him the opportunity to work all over Australia and the world. From Matilda, WA, Darwin, and various locations in Queensland, to Abu Dhabi, Asia, Kazakhstan, Iraq and now Papua New Guinea (PNG).
In Abu Dhabi Alex worked on a $60b project with Laing O’Rourke as construction manager. When he returned to Australia, he started on the Pluto Gas Project in WA, with Foster Wheeler Worley Parsons as the supervisor. He then moved to Adelaide and worked for Balderstone (now Lendlease). During his tenure there, he was seconded to a joint venture with Transfield, who poached him. Within a year he was promoted to Project Director for Roxby Downs in South Australia, coordinating tenders and bids.
Then Alex says he got a call out of the blue from a company called Oil Search in PNG. ‘I’ll never forget it, they said:
“Would you like to come work for us?”
I hung up on them three times because I was in meetings, and the guy said,
“Please don’t hang up me. How would you like to work six months of the year tax-free?
I said, “Beg your pardon?” And so that was my journey into PNG!’
‘There was a high-profile position I was looking at. The recruiter told me I needed a degree. I read through the job description and knew I could do it. It was all stuff I’d already been doing. I just didn’t have the qualification they were asking for. So, they wouldn’t even consider me.’
That’s when Alex started looking into doing his master’s degree at Swinburne University.
Alex reflected back on his previous stint at University: ‘One of the things that really got me when I was at uni was seeing the frustration of some of the other students. These people were mature professionals with a lot of experience. But they didn’t know where to go to source some RPL.
The RPL hierarchy of evidence-based assessment for uni is very stringent. It was really sort of archaic back then, and I think they were a little bit scared of it.
I remember thinking it would be great to find an organisation that valued career history.’
After looking through all the different education providers, by chance he came across Churchill Education.
Alex says, ‘I’m a lateral thinker. Before I make a decision, I think about it. But this one was quite quick. I didn’t harbor on it. I just picked up the phone and spoke to John Brayshaw, and that was the start of it.
John was good. He wasn’t your typical young uni kid trying to sell you a degree and get you in there and sign you up to get their KPIs and little bonuses. He was the opposite, which I thought was refreshing. He said, “Give me a buzz if you want to chance to talk about this.” He never pushed it, and I was a little bit taken aback. I thought, why isn’t this guy pushing me about this? I liked it.’
John sent Alex a list of evidence he required in order to assess his eligibility.
Alex says, ‘I’ll never forget, a couple of days after I’d sent through my evidence, John came back with a list of qualifications I was eligible for. It was like winning the lottery! I actually bought myself a bottle of Penfolds 389, ’94 bottle. I thought I, I deserve this.’
Alex enrolled in:
When it came to the dollar side of things Alex says it was a no brainer: ‘I didn’t hesitate. I just said yes. It’s an investment in me, my family and my career.’
Once Alex received his qualifications, he notified a few recruiters he had his CV with. A recruiter in Singapore told him: ‘This change everything completely, this gives so much credibility and kudos moving forward.’
What a great feeling!
Alex’s next goal is to complete an MBA with the Australian Institute of Management (AIM). He has been advised that the qualifications he already holds will give him five business credit units off his MBA. This means he will only need to complete seven units instead of 12.
At $2,800 per unit, this is a saving of $14,000!
Alex’s story is a wonderful example of the benefit of hard work and dedication. And more importantly it is also a story of making the most of what you know and can do to keep pushing forward in your career.
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