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A Top Performer

A toddler playing contentedly in his backyard sandpit pushes his Tonka trucks around in the soft sand. He’s only three years old, but he can easily differentiate the truck names and their purpose – digger, dump truck, grader. His father looks on nearby, shaking his head at where his young son’s fascination for these toys has come from.

Well, the answer to that is easy! This toddler’s father is Matthew Gurney – Civilex Operations Manager. And Matt too enjoys getting out on a project site and watching Civilex’s big, yellow plant and equipment do their thing. A case of like father, like son.

Matt with his young son hanging out together in their backyard.

Matt joined Civilex in 2015 in the role of Construction Manager. He brought with him a sound engineering and construction industry background starting as a Graduate with BMD and quickly climbing the ranks to Project Manager within seven years, and then moving across to CPB as a PM for a further six years before calling Civilex his “work-home.”

Matt’s professionalism and consistently high performance saw him promoted at Civilex to Operations Manager in 2017, a role that brought with it a massive increase in responsibility. Matt now oversees the coordination of an entire Engineering Team, site-based workforce, project delivery, communications, safety, and procurement. Matt is also an inaugural Fellow of Roads Australia – a unique mentoring initiative for next-generation leaders to develop, network and engage with the industry. He is a busy man.

During his time with Civilex Matt has witnessed the transformation of the Victorian-based civil construction company rise from a small company with just eight engineers to a company that today employs more than 60 engineers. And Matt has had a lot to do with this transformation.

There have been a few firsts that have occurred during Matt’s tenure with his ever-expanding team, including being involved in projects in new sectors such as renewable energy, the Level Crossing Removal Project, and continued growth within the Defence sector. Ask Matt how he feels about working in amongst Victoria’s infrastructure boom and his response (with a grin) is: “Right now, we’re playing in a really exciting space.”

The Exciting Spaces Civilex is Playing In

Wind Farms. Civilex is currently working in the regional north-western township of Murra Warra delivering the major works package to supply and install more than 60 turbine concrete foundations for client Downer. It’s Civilex’s second wind farm project after the successful completion of Mt Gellibrand Wind Farm project with Acciona Energy in 2017.

Test Track. Civilex delivered civil works associated with Toyota’s Product Knowledge Centre Driving Course in Altona. The former car manufacturing plant has transformed into a Centre of Excellence including a testing facility complete with track, skid-pans, Belgian blocks and more.

Rail. Civilex is proud to be part of the Level Crossing Removal Authority Project – CD9 (Caulfield to Dandenong) for client CPB Contractors. The project sees nine level crossings removed, and the whole section of rail elevated. Civilex’s scope includes the construction of car parking beneath elevated rail structures, earthworks, and hard landscaping.

Aviation. Civilex has been delivering projects for Melbourne Airport and other aviation clients since 2014. Work is varied including services tunnels, ground works, valet and premium parking, forecourt, and dynamic signage at APAM. We have also delivered civil works for Melbourne Aviation Precinct Melbourne Jet Base with client Hutchinson Builders.

Metro Tunnel. The Melbourne Metro Tunnel Project is one of the largest public infrastructure projects ever undertaken in Australia. Its completion will transform Melbourne’s rail network into an international-style metro system and will boost capacity. Civilex is involved in a variety of Metro projects, including improving cyclist infrastructure along Moray Street in South Melbourne with client John Holland. Civilex’s work provided an alternative route for cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists while work on St Kilda Road was undertaken to construct the new Anzac Station.

5 Questions in 5 Minutes with Matt Gurney

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

If it’s not the early rising habits of his young son, it’s the motivation of being part of something great – the people and projects. “I like having an impact. Impacting the delivery of a project, the bottom line and the ability to make a definitive decision, plus the recognition and reward that comes with working for a company like Civilex.” Unlike other larger civil construction companies, Matt enjoys the fact that the company operates differently than larger companies – run more like a large family across many different projects. “It provides a sense of ‘we’re all in this together’ mentality. And I know the Directors here all have my back.”

How do you achieve work-life balance?

For starters, living close to work helps immensely. But Matt has a lot of moving elements to manage and is continuously one of the many who arrives early to work. “Civilex as a whole is based on rewarding on a result, not time. No one pats you on the back for being here early or working back late.” The ‘Matt Balance Equation’ is simple: consistently start early, but don’t be the last to leave. “In my experience, you can do one, but you can’t do both over the long term.”

How do the Civilex’s values and culture influence your work?

Although Civilex has its six core company values plastered across its kitchen wall at Spotswood head office, it’s the way we use the values between people that make the most difference. “The values are tools we use to talk with our people about performance and management situations. When our people align with our values we all get what we want.”

In a traditionally male-dominated industry, Civilex hinges its culture on a uniquely different approach. We are on a journey to disrupt the engineering gender ratio – currently at 13.6% in Australia – and move away from exclusivity to a more diverse and inclusive group. “Diversity is a good thing – and because we’re growing so much – we are doing things differently to maintain and support the diversity we seek and want to attract in our people.”

Do you still get excited about seeing large bits of equipment on site?

Matt might be reluctant to admit that he is just like his son, and in reality, Matt plays in a larger, somewhat more intense, sandpit with over 110 pieces of large plant. “I love seeing the gear out on site, and I love the fact that Civilex is a self-performing company delivering on a range of construction projects across Victoria.”

What do you enjoy most about working for Civilex?

With the sustained growth Civilex has been experiencing, the company continues its growth and expansion with an impressive domination of industry-experienced and emerging professionals. Matt says, “Civilex is a dynamic workplace. Our workforce is a great mix of talent and being in and around that is invigorating.”

Since Civilex moved to its new head office in Spotswood, its employees enjoy the social perks of a local precinct offering a great range of cafes and services. “I love grabbing a coffee down the street with the engineers, or going to the pub on the corner for lunch and being able to celebrate a completed job.”

There is a strong sense of collective belonging at Civilex, and wherever there are top performing people, you’ll find there is also a top performing business and team backing them up. And I think it’s here at Civilex where Matt has met his match.

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