Meet The Team – Ryan O’Neill

Ryan O’Neill’s career has sent him to some of the globe’s most far-flung locations as he has gone from site engineer, to project manager and from estimator & planner to building Civil Project Partners with Chris Dale.

We caught up with Ryan to find out a little bit more about him, the projects he enjoys, his love for the Adelaide Crows and surviving dust storms in Afghanistan.

Why did you become an engineer/estimator/planner?

Family inspiration is behind a lot of the drive to enter the industry. My father was an earthworks superintendent for most of my time in school years. Paired with encouraging grades in maths and physics it became a pathway. As my career progressed, I became more involved and attracted to the pre-contracts side and high turnover exposure to projects. It is a little bit like looking into the future of what will be constructed down the pipeline.

What do you love about working in infrastructure?

Every project is unique in its own way, creating a puzzle, which I enjoy piecing together. Most of the time you can’t solve it by yourself, and it’s through the sharing of ideas and views in a team environment that completes the picture. I enjoy the broad variety of people that are brought together in an infrastructure project because it opens my eyes to the interconnectedness of the world.

What are you working on at the moment?

Our company is working through some business case options for Gladstone Port Access. My role in the team is to program both the options to feed into the estimate and risk profiles.

What has been your greatest professional achievement to date?

So far, establishing a civil cost estimating, programming and risk business with another great professional, Chris Dale has been my greatest professional achievement. Managing end-to-end and introducing business systems from scratch has been a challenge, which culminated in the certification of our systems which I am very proud of.

What’s the best project you have worked on?

I have worked on many great projects with great people. During a three year stint in Afghanistan working with a multinational workforce, I made many great friends, who I still talk to. The projects had their own unique challenges – good and bad. I don’t think there are too many projects where you can get caught in dust storm in a helicopter and the pilot is flying 50ft off the road with landing lights on using the line marking as a guide. I can still remember the jingle truck high-beaming us, what he thought was another truck coming towards him, and the look of bewilderment in his eyes as we flew over his truck.

What’s the most useful thing you’ve learned throughout your career?

Continually adapt and evolve. The industry is a competitive environment.

The way we go about our work in the future will inevitably be superseded by a change we don’t know about today or don’t practice.

What would your last meal be?

White chocolate raspberry brioche dumplings – use to get from Freestyle Tout in the Emporium – sadly out of business. They are not very good for you, but as it’s my last meal I probably wouldn’t care.

What is the last movie you watched or series you binged?

Last TV series I got through was Westwood (Series 1) and The Wire (all five series). Currently trying to get through The Last Dance and Silicon Valley.

Who’s inspires you and why?

One of the most famous investors Warren Buffet. I admire his humility – lives in a modest house, drives a modest car, lives frugally compared to his wealth, shows a lot of patience, and reading his autobiography was a hard worker from a very young age.

What excites you about the future of infrastructure?

I’m really looking forward to the effect 4d planning has on the industry – validating methods, as a communication tool, acceleration of project knowledge, risk mitigation tool, many more probably not sure on how it could be applied. Looking at 5d planning, it brings together the cost, planning, design and construction.

What would be your dream project to work on from history?

I’ve been to the pyramids in real life. Moving those blocks by hand is some feat. There are many theories on how it was achieved. I have a curiosity on whether they did use a ramp and push these blocks all the way to the top. I can imagine there would be some doubting on whether they were going about it the right way after the first 10-20 years. But, they kept at it and finished it.

What piece of advice would you give to someone about to start a career in infrastructure?

Enjoy it, it is probably one of the best times in your career. Be patient, ask questions and learn from mistakes because we all make them. Have a good mentor/friend who you can bounce ideas off, not necessarily in the industry.

What do you do outside work for fun?

I’d love to say I cycle and run hundreds of kilometres a week – but I don’t.

I enjoy supporting my beloved Adelaide Crows. I’ve got my son into AFL, and enjoy taking him down for an Auskick. It’s just a little too early on a Saturday.

If you could attend any event or concert from the past, what would it be?

Probably the 1997 or 1998 grand final when Adelaide Crows won the flag. Only because I may not be able to see it again.


Lightly spread on buttered toast.



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