Lifelong connections and the importance of an open mind were Steve Muscat's key takeaways when looking back on his time at university.
Stephen Muscat, I’m currently the director of my own engineering consultancy called Rail Confidence.
The opportunities and challenges that are presented both from a technical and commercial perspective.
Most definitely the people. I made some lifelong friends, collaborators and advisers from my time at Sydney Uni. I even met my wife at the university.
Two things come to mind. I was smitten by the automotive industry and desperate to work in Formula One racing. The automotive industry was on the decline and a job in F1 was even less likely. I took a job with a freight wagon manufacturing company in Newcastle after finishing my degree.
At the time, mining was the career in vogue and I remember being uninspired by the rail industry. It was antiquated, appeared technologically simple and the industry was saturated by old men in cardigans who spent their career in the industry. I eventually realised the opportunities that were being afforded to me by being part of a well-established industry that was about to evolve rapidly.
I got to go to some amazing sites around Australia and the world. I got to participate and actually witness the contribution the rail industry was making. Eventually I learned to embrace my career in the rail industry and realise that hobby’s and passions are separate from a career. Being part of the rail industry, whilst wasn’t my initial preference has enabled me to enjoy my hobbies and interests as I wish. This experience taught me the benefit of an open mind. Whist not all experiences in my career have been positive, I now know what I do and don’t like doing.
Not wanting to sound cliché, I would have to say starting my own engineering consultancy.
The day I cut the metaphorical bowlines to my previous, stable, regularly paid employment I was riddled with anxiety. I wasn’t sure if it would be detrimental to my career, reputation or capabilities. In fact, it has been the opposite for all those. I’m really proud that we now employ multiple staff and have a positive standing in the industry in the relatively short period of time we have been operating.
Multiple factors have helped this goal flourish. I have a very capable and quality driven business partner whose personality and skills compliment mine. I also have a very supportive and understanding wife, who was willing to make scarifies to ensure the success of this goal.
With regards to the people in my life, I’ve been lucky and am very grateful. The rest of it has come down to hard work.
It’s more of an evolution than an innovation. Computing power and data storage is continually improving which helps answer more questions more quickly. Also, I like the fact that safety is continuously improving and the respect for it is embraced more and more.
Various Australian governments are making significant investments in rail transport. Sydney is getting its first driverless automatic train in the next few years with the installation of the Sydney Metro. Light rail systems are popping up in various states. New trains mean new technologies and system that make the lives of the community more comfortable and safer.
Heavy haul mining companies are also investing in automatic driving technologies to enhance the throughput of their commodity and make the networks safer. My initial impression of the rail industry being antiquated is no longer as defence based and aerospace technologies continue to emerge throughout the industry.