Recently we spoke with Senior Site Manager Peter Baker, about his esteemed 30+ construction career and what it takes to become a successful Senior Site Manager.
Introducing Peter Baker
Peter has been a site manager for 25 years. Having started out as a general contractor, in his professional career he has since worked for Baulderstone, Leighton Contractors, Brookfield and most recently John Holland.
His career highlights include working as a site manager in Jakarta earlier in his career and managing Baulderstone’s development of Etihad Stadium.
Peter was involved in the $119m MCG demolition and redevelopment which significantly increased the capacity of the iconic stadium and provided the capacity for an additional 40,000 patrons.
How Peter Got Started in Construction
Prior to working in the construction industry, Peter served in the Australian Armed Forces, where he learned the basics of construction. He then took the skills he cultivated and began doing residential construction, where he enjoyed learning about site-budgeting and the cut and thrust of the trade.
Peter says that the very basis of his role as a senior site manager is to ensure everything on site runs smoothly. This involves managing industrial relations and ensuring safety measures are in place at all times.
He believes his success in his field comes down to prioritising planning, logistics, safety, programming, and mentoring his team to work towards their own individual goals.
What Makes a Great Site Manager
Peter says building relationships with everyone on site is the foundation to projects running smoothly. Knowing everyone by name, building a rapport and working together, ensures the job becomes easier and things get done faster.
He loves being on-site and getting his hands dirty. He says being a builder by trade with a hands-on understanding of construction allowed him to manage projects well and was fundamental in his rise through the ranks to Senior Site Manager with John Holland.
He believes anyone in the industry can transition to site manager, especially builders who work their way up through experience.
A Site Manager has the ability to go outside, have a bit of fun on-site, and see concepts come to life.
Advice For Graduates
Peter’s advice to younger teams he mentors is to read drawings and documentation as much as possible. By doing this he says you’ll eventually get to the point where you can just glance at drawings and changes jump out at you. Reading and understanding drawings is one of the best skills you can build.
Peter’s belief is that all graduates, whether they be architects or engineers, should spend their first year in construction on the ground.
Pathways Available For Site Managers
There are many pathways available to site managers. Peter’s seen many builders and site managers rise up the ranks to become project managers for significant projects.
“Most construction professionals who have spent time on site are much better at what they do in comparison to those who spend all of their time inside the office.”
Anyone who knows how to build can very easily transition their career into project management. This is because they understand the mechanics of what is happening on-site and can learn the other elements of the role very easily.”
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