My Melbourne with Alexandra Lawlor

December 11 / 77

What is your unit?

Major Projects Group, University Services

What is your job title?

Senior Project Manager

How long have you been with the University of Melbourne?

Seven months

How did you come to work at the University?

I’ve always worked in major projects – either as an architect or in project management roles.  In my last job, I worked with Places Victoria on the Revitalising Central Dandenong project. It was an amazing and very satisfying role, but it involved a one-hour commute each way. Now I walk to work, reduce my carbon footprint and keep fit while doing so. I still miss the fabulous Indian and Afghan shops in Dandy though.
Describe your typical day

I could tell you, but I’d have to kill you! We help faculties progress their projects through the Major Projects Framework; from the ideas stage through to construction and completion. A lot of my time is devoted to supporting project planning and business case development.

We also do all the reporting for the Commonwealth Education Investment Fund grants to University building projects such as the Peter Doherty Institute, Graduate Learning Spaces and the Centre for Neural Engineering.

At the moment, I am working on the Southbank campus master planning, Centre for Neural Engineering, Victorian Life Sciences Computational Initiative and the Faculty of Art, among other things. It’s a busy role when you write it all down on paper.

What is it about your job that holds your interest or is particularly satisfying?

The Major Projects Group oversees University projects of more than $50 million, so we deal with a wide range of projects, which means we don’t suffer from Groundhog Day syndrome; one day it’s a super computer, then some scientific equipment or a new faculty building. I also enjoy working with people who are committed to higher education and research across a broad range of areas and different faculties.

The University campus has a great range of significant early 20th century buildings that are an invaluable part of Australia’s architectural heritage. This has taken great vision, developed over more than 100 years, and our role is to make sure the Melbourne campus continues to live up to this vision.

My background is as an architect and development manager so I love the university environment where, I get to work on different types of projects, not just buildings.

What is the best piece of advice you have received?

Don’t worry about what you can’t change.

What is something about yourself that most of your colleagues wouldn't know?

I like to knit, and I hold a world title for crayfish diving.

Where do you buy your coffee on campus?

Castro’s Kiosk.

What do you like most about the University?

The campus has great amenity – and certainly many more lunch options than when I was an architecture student here. I love the Food Co-Op and the Tsubu courtyard. I also enjoy visiting the different exhibitions and collections that we have at the University - we’re really quite spoilt for choice.

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