14.03.2016 : Kajal Mukherjee

Reflecting on a 20 year career

Recently, I celebrated 20 years at Beca. Nowadays 20 years with one employer seems like a long time, but it was different when I first started work.

Recently, I celebrated 20 years at Beca, one of the largest employee-owned professional services consultancies in Asia-Pacific. Nowadays 20 years with one employer seems like a long time, but it was different when I first started at Beca Simon Kawarau Ltd. I was asked how I’ve grown over the last two decades and here’s my trip down memory lane.
  1. My role at Beca and how has it changed over the last 20 years?

I joined Beca Simons Kawarau Ltd as a ‘scheduler’. My role involved managing complete engineering services for the Tasman mill with a $30-40 million annual capital budget. Essentially, I was a project controls person. Over the years, my role hasn’t changed in terms of what I do but the projects I’ve worked on have become bigger. I’ve worked on major projects where the size of the job has increased and I’ve gained more experience. Also, I held the role of Section Manager for Beca AMEC in Tauranga, NZ for a time.

2. What memorable projects have you been involved with?

  • Paper Machine Winder Upgrade, FC Tasman (presently Norske Skog), Kawarau, New Zealand

My earliest memorable project. It involved a major winder rebuild for Fletcher Challenge Tasman (as it was known in those days). The project was a year and a half long and I was involved managing the scheduling and cost control of the job.

  • Furnace rebuild at Sorowako, Indonesia (presently PT Vale)

I was sent to develop the Master Schedule for three weeks in Sorowako for this project but ended up returning to New Zealand six months later. Our second child was very young then. This was a challenging and tight project and that’s probably why it’s sticks in my mind to this day. We had won the job by promising to reduce the overall downtime by a considerable number hence expectations were set from the onset. Therefore, maintaining the schedule was very important. In the end we managed to reduce the overall downtime compared to the past so the project was a success.

  • Sappi Pulp Mill, Ngodwana, South Africa

This project took place three years ago where we had a big challenge from one of our partner companies, AMEC (now AMEC Foster Wheeler). It was to provide EPCM (engineering procurement construction management) for a $800 million build of a complete pulp mill. I received a call from AMEC headquarters as they were looking for a specialist planner to develop the FEL3 Master Schedule for the project. Again, I was to be involved only at the development stage of the project, but ended up becoming the overall project controls manager for 16 months (intermittently) based in South Africa. The memorable part was the challenge of a major project and tight timeframe but also the location; only about an hour’s drive from the famous Kruger National park.

3. What advice would you give to graduates? Why 20 years? When I first moved to New Zealand, I applied for a lot of engineering jobs and Beca was the first company to accept me. From the moment I joined, it felt like a family and it has looked after me over the last two decades. Beca is my family. My advice to graduates is: Once you join the family, you stick with the family.

4. What's next for you? What are you looking forward to in the future? For a long time I’ve been offered opportunities to work with AMEC Foster Wheeler in the US, Canada or in refining projects in the Middle East. I still have a desire to be involved in another major role like I was with the Sappi Pulp Mill project. There’s a possibility that I might take it now that my youngest is about to leave the nest. I still play hockey and I’m working towards again playing for the New Zealand Masters!ajal Mukherjee

About the Author

Kajal Mukherjee

Technical Director - Project Management

Kajal has over 25 years of Project Controls experience in heavy industry, including, pulp and paper, mining and power generation. He provides leadership for project controls/services in many of Beca's major Industrial projects globally, including both the front end engineering design (FEED) Study and delivery phases. Kajal has been involved in developing major shutdown plans for NZ pulp and paper clients and also furnace rebuild projects in Indonesia and New Caledonia.

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Kam · 14/03/2016 10:18:25 p.m.
Congrats Kajal on a successful 20 year career.