The student becomes the teacher in PCWA’s Next Generation program
Brian Zlnay grew up in Australia but is of Irish descent, so spent a lot of time travelling between the two countries as a kid, giving him a great appreciation of the two different cultures.
After graduating with his Bachelor of Engineering from UWA in 2009, Brian landed a job at John Holland as a Mechanical Engineer and became hooked on the oil and gas industry.
“Oil and gas construction requires high attention to detail and careful planning,” Brian said.
“You’re dealing with components that can be worth thousands or tens of thousands of dollars (one valve was worth $200,000) some taking years to procure, so everything needs to fit together precisely.”
After a year, Brian accepted a Field Engineer role with the same company at the Devil Creek Gas Plant near Karratha for Apache (now Santos). There he was Site Engineer in the structural, mechanical and piping department.
Brian also worked on the Browse LNG Joint Venture with KLH Australia for six months and subsequently joined Karara Mining Ltd as a Project Engineer for the construction of a 30 million tonne per annum magnetite mine and processing plant near Geraldton.
For the last six years, Brian has been with Primero Group, an engineering group that specialises in the design, construction and operation of resource projects.
“We work right across the resources sector, from lithium to oil and gas, to clean energy and power, completing front end engineering and design all the way through to operations and maintenance.
“The last six years have been flat out. We started off as a small company which allowed me to take on a lot of responsibility and gain a lot of experience quickly. The Directors are personable and trust their teams, which makes it a great workplace.”
Brian now manages small to medium design and construction projects, mainly focussing on hydrocarbons and oil and gas.
“I also look after the field and project engineers, providing support and mentoring graduates in their new roles,” Brian said.
Having worked on a wide variety of projects in the oil and gas industry, he says his favourite type is the big piping projects.
Since becoming a PCWA member two years ago, Brian has participated in PCWA’s Next Generation Schools program, which matches a school with an industry mentor, so students get first-hand access to someone working in the industry.
It’s a case of the student becoming the teacher. Brian signed up because he had participated in the program as a student himself and had found it really interesting.
“I really enjoy it. The students are keen to learn, and it’s given me the chance to reflect on my own career journey.”
Brian enjoys the culture at PCWA and the diverse range of people the club attracts.
“It’s great to talk to like-minded people, who might be outside your immediate sphere of work, but share your passions.”
Brian loved building things when he was younger and set up a workshop in his garage when he was 12, so it’s no surprise he spends his spare time working on construction projects around his house.
“I also love the gym and use it as a place to unwind before or after work. In summer I get down the beach as often as I can.”
Now married with a baby on the way, he says his next challenge will be starting a family.
“Hopefully I can apply some project management skills at home to keep the kids in line.”