Meet Francis Heil

A crazy-shirt wearing, volunteering, enthusiastic process engineer

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Intrigued by exciting projects and enthusiastic people, Francis joined the Beca team six years ago, and has taken his career from strength to strength since. Based in our Melbourne, Australia office, Francis tells us what it's like to be a process engineer at Beca, what gets him out of bed in the morning and offers developing professionals some valuable advice.


What attracted you to Beca initially?

Exciting projects, enthusiastic people, and the fact that ‘enjoyment’ is one of Beca’s four core values. I first heard of Beca as the lead design firm working on the Victorian Desalination Project – which is one of Australia’s largest process plants – so I was excited by the opportunity to work on a mega project with Beca. I met Beca representatives at a careers fair and the people were energetic and spoke of the diverse opportunities and fun at Beca.

What sort of projects have you been involved in?

I’ve worked across the Industrial, Water and Environments sections over my six years with Beca, working on numerous water and wastewater and food and beverage projects. My roles have included construction and commissioning management in dairy facilities, leading risk review workshops for a brewery upgrade, and design and procurement of a chocolate pumping system. I’ve also developed a site masterplan for a large brewery in Papua New Guinea, and worked with a Beca work-sharing partner in India.

What has been your favourite accomplishment at Beca?

In the past year I’ve been project manager for the development of an industrial wastewater treatment plant which uses a bioprocess to digest waste and produce biogas. Through leading the sustainability focussed project, I’ve learnt about processes to reduce water pollution, environmental regulations, and government incentives available for carbon emissions abatement.

What gets you out of bed every morning?

The opportunity to manage projects and teams, learning from brilliant and diverse people, and bringing value to clients, their consumers and communities due to the benefits that flow from the projects we deliver.

How does the work you do ‘make everyday better’ for our clients and communities?

Safety and sustainability are a huge focus in the work I do. Our projects have contributed to recovering value from waste, reducing energy consumption, increasing operator safety, and safeguarding public health through delivering reliable and safe food and water. Our projects bring increased economic opportunity for clients and communities, leading to growth in employment and investment in Australian manufacturing.

What advice would you give to developing professionals?

Pursue projects that you’re interested in and look for opportunities to work with people you want to learn from. One of the best things about working in consulting is that you get the chance to work on diverse projects in many different locations. Be mobile when opportunities arise, as working out of the office can be very rewarding. Stay connected with the wider industry and community to further develop your professional networks and find your passions and purpose in the work you do.

What does the next 12 months hold for you?

I am currently project manager and design manager for upgrades to an infant formula blending and canning facility in Melbourne, working with a team across Asia. In the next, month Beca is supporting me to attend UNLEASH, a Global Innovation Lab in Singapore where I will work with talented people from around the world to develop design solutions to address the Sustainable Development Goals.

Beca’s Industrial team are hiring – what are you looking for in a new colleague?

An outgoing and interested person who has a passion for improving processes and delivering industrial projects. Someone who brings energy to a team, tackles challenges with confidence and initiative, and is keen to work onsite.

Outside of your work at Beca, what do you love to do?

Outside of Beca I volunteer with Engineers Without Borders (EWB) where I lead the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Hub. I recently returned from six weeks in India where I co-facilitated a humanitarian engineering design summit for EWB. I love travelling and learning about people and culture. I also love going to live music gigs and arts festivals.

One of the best things about working in consulting is that you’ll get the chance to work on diverse projects in many different locations. Be mobile when opportunities arise, as working out of the office can be very rewarding.

Francis Heil,

Senior Process Engineer - Industrial