4 Graduates Chat ‘Internship And Innovation’ At Lendlease Podium
- 19 April 2022
- Lendlease Podium
If digitising and disrupting the construction industry on a daily basis wasn’t exiting enough, what about being able to design and develop transformative products - and even change mindsets – through the power of digital and data in the staunchly traditional property realm.
At least, that’s some of the revelations dished out by a gaggle of graduates – including Ellycia Setiadi, Kieran Graham, Eve Taylor and Portia Hyland - who all reveal what it’s like working at a multinational company like Lendlease – and in particular the start-up division that is Lendlease Digital (Podium).
From data analyst to digital graduate to product analyst to UX/UI designer, all four graduates share their reasons for joining the digital team; highlight some key accomplishments in their roles; offer up some practical advice to others looking to jump into the game; and reflect on some pivotal lessons learned along the way.
A common sentiment expressed across the board is just how surprising it is to still see an industry steeped in traditional, manual processes - and widespread rigidity to change - but also expressed feelings of appreciation for the innovative work undertaken by Podium to rewrite that narrative.
“Working on different projects within Podium has really opened my eyes,” said Ellycia Setiadi, a second year Digital Graduate, who’s currently in her second rotation working as a Data Analyst within the Data Studio team.
“What I found to be the most surprising is how much the construction sector is falling behind other industries when it comes to digitising manual processes.
“It’s been exciting to hop on this journey early and be part of the creative and innovative direction because we really are driving digital transformation within the property and construction industry to ultimately change how people do things in the future.”
Having completed a Bachelor of Information Systems degree in university, Setiadi said she’s learnt about the value technology has on business opportunities and is excited by her role, which allowed her to specialise in three key areas: data, software engineering, and product.
“These areas coincidently were the three exact rotations within the Lendlease graduate program, so I thought it was perfect fit for me,” she said, explaining how her sense of curiosity ultimately opened doors.
“Knowing that Lendlease is globally known for being one of the best construction and property companies in the world, it was curiosity that drove me into wanting to join Lendlease. I didn’t have a background in construction and property and going into the unknown was exciting and I was up for the challenge - and I wanted to learn about an industry I wasn’t familiar with.”
Like Setiadi, graduate Kieran Graham said his experience at Lendlease has also been eye opening – and even changed his perception of the property and construction worlds.
In his first rotation as a Product Analyst, Graham is helping guide the software product direction through competitor analysis, strategic roadmaps and data privacy management.
“My perception of Lendlease - before and after working for them - is night and day. Before I looked into the industry, I saw Lendlease as another property developer with their name attached to some really cool looking buildings.
“But now that I’ve worked here, I know it’s not just the exteriors that are futuristic - it’s how they view construction. All the way down to the minute details, Lendlease is challenging what’s needed to create successful structures, and through that successful communities, places and people.”
Indeed, challenging mindsets and working for a start-up at a rapidly expanding business is an attractive proposal. For graduate Eve Taylor - who’s a digital graduate in product rotation, and currently working in the Origination team within Podium Services - the decision to work for Lendlease was a no-brainer.
“I loved the idea of working in a lean start-up environment for an established company. Lendlease Digital and Podium’s status as a rapidly expanding business also had a major influence on my desire to work here in order to grow with the company long-term as it scales.”
Taylor said she’s involved in projects at their conception, working across a variety of teams and alongside customers to deliver value in products and services.
“I’ve been entrusted to help lead the product and service development of the Podium IT support model, as well as in the delivery of a variety of projects across Podium Services.”
Already, she said she’s learnt that Lendlease is about more than just buildings and construction, but about social and environmental change.
“Lendlease’s commitments towards safety and sustainability aren’t just marketing spiel, but rather meaningful, actionable targets being pursued by everyone at Lendlease. I’ve also been surprised at how many of my colleagues in all areas of the business started out as a grad themselves, proving the value of this program.”
Meanwhile, leading a team – particularly on the automation front – has been a thrilling ride already for Setiadi, who said in her first rotation was fortunate enough to have worked very closely within the Podium Supply Automation team as the UX/ UI designer.
“It was an exciting accomplishment to have driven the design decisions within the Track and Trace Product. It was a great feeling seeing my ideas come to life and to see my own signature on things on too. Because Lendlease is a global company, it was great to have collaborated with team members from Singapore, San Francisco, and India.
“In my current rotation working as a Data Analyst within the Data Studio team I’ve helped with refining the operating model for our team to inform other business units within Lendlease Digital our capability offerings. I’ve also assisted in creating reporting dashboards for the operations team within Podium Services to enable the team into monitoring their utility assets' financial and operational performance.”
Meanwhile, massive inroads on the smart cities front have revved up graduate Portia Hyland, who’s proud of the accomplishments she’s already achieved through the Grad Program.
“A few of my accomplishments thus far are the research I conducted on smart cities to assist with the long-term strategic vision of Podium Property Insights, working on the Podium Ontology, creation, and managing the support process of MX Studio and implementing a reporting system to measure the progress of features.”
Looking back, Hyland said she had an interest in Lendlease right from the get-go after studying a Bachelor of Architecture and Environments.
“After my undergraduate degree, I decided to further my tertiary education and study a Master of Innovative and Strategic Design. This focused on using design thinking methodologies and human-centred design to solve complex problems. During this I developed an interest in the intersection of people, business and technology.”
Currently in her second rotation - the product rotation - Hyland is working in MX Studio (Systems) in Podium, which is a digital product that generates a building in a matter of minutes to come up with the optimal design solution and provides documentation.
“This product is currently being used in projects around the world. My current role is an associate product manager. I assist with planning and managing requirements from the projects, reporting on the status of the product and the development of features, managing the support process with the projects and any improvements we can make.
“I work closely with MIND and how they’re utilising the tool, any additional requirements they may have and how we can amend the roadmap to incorporate these. Recently, I’ve been looking at how we could create a carbon calculator, which has been both exciting and challenging.”
‘Try anything and everything’
It’s this vastness of experience that’s so rewarding and valuable for any graduate student, according to Hyland.
“In both of my rotations so far, I have been given the chance to try new things and develop skills I never thought I would’ve. Each rotation is an excellent opportunity to learn, develop new skills (both soft and hard skills) and meet new people. In your rotations expect to try anything and everything. Don’t be afraid to ask to try new things or to sit in on meetings.”
Like Hyland, Setiadi said she’s enjoyed the challenges and has learnt a lot – and just because you’re a graduate, doesn’t mean your team think any less of you.
“Digital Graduates are providing a fresh new set of eyes to projects and knowledge to the team which is invaluable. Ask all the questions in the world, no matter how small or big it is.
“The beauty of working in the digital space within Lendlease is that most of the time, we too are also trying to figure out the solution because the digital world is always changing, and we’re always trying to come up with innovative solutions for new problems. You're in these three rotations for eight months each – so go into each rotation with an open mindset.
“The Digital Graduate Program is here to set you up into becoming a Digital Unicorn - being an all-rounder in product, data, and software engineering. Because no matter what role you land yourself into at the end of the program, you’ll have a wholistic understanding of how a digital team works.”
In fact, be ready to be involved in multiple projects and working across a number of different teams, advised Taylor.
“The grad program is an opportunity to find out not only what you love doing, but who you would love to work with. And there’s lots of experience to be gained working across a variety of projects, which allow you to interact with different stakeholders and business units within the Lendlease Group.”
But also know it’s okay not to know everything, and right away, Graham advised.
“There are always so many moving pieces, and being able to focus on just what you need to can be hard. So, accept that it’s a process and your goal is to be better than the previous day. You’ll find the highlight of your day being as simple as understanding a complex idea first go,” he said.
And what should graduates expect during rotations? It’s simple, Graham said. “Expect to become knowledgeable in areas you didn’t know existed. The fine details of intricate projects can easily become essential to larger pieces, so soak it all up, it might come in handy.”
In the final analysis, “challenge yourself and jump out of your comfort zone,” Setiadi advised.
“You may discover a new skill you never knew you were good at.”