Working at Woods: Joanne Cochrane

Joanne Cochrane staff photo
Joanne Cochrane
Associate Engineer – Discipline Lead LD Piritahi
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What originally began as a 6-month administration role turned into the start of a new career for Woods engineer, Joanne Cochrane. Read on to find out more about Joanne’s story and working at Woods.

If I think back to before I started working at Woods, there was another company I was considering at the same time. If I had known then what I know now, there wouldn’t have been any debate – it would have just been Woods. 

It was originally supposed to be a temporary part-time admin role to secure a mortgage and then I would go back to running my business. However, I liked the variety of work and fun environment at Woods so much that when they offered me a permanent role, I took it and am still here 16 years later.

Since making that decision, I have been progressively offered different roles within the company and have built my career as an engineer. From draughtsperson to junior engineer to intermediate graduate, I worked my way up to where I am now as a team leader, managing teams and quite complex large projects. 

Over the years, Woods has pushed and supported me to develop my skills. They recognised an ability in me and helped me to develop it. I was encouraged to do a lot of on-the-job experience but there also came a point where they said, “You need to do some study.” Woods allowed me to study during work hours and were supportive through that process.

Here are just a few of the things I love about working at Woods:

A culture where people are more important than projects

Woods is probably the only company I could have stayed at for this long without getting bored or sick of it. The directors and managers have always behaved as if people are more important than projects. They really do put people first. It's not a dynamic I've encountered anywhere else where everybody's treated exactly the same and are just as important as (if not more than) projects. It’s just a great place to work and our projects benefit from this approach.

A challenging yet rewarding role

My day-to-day work life can be quite intense and challenging. It's not an easy job sometimes. There are times you sort of want to throw it in and there are other times where you think this is absolutely brilliant!  While having strong science, maths and technical skills are very important, there is a lot more to being an engineer than just this – the role involves a lot of people skills as well. There are often roadblocks to development so a lot of what we do isn’t just the nuts and bolts of the engineering. It's not just sizing a pipe, it's understanding the development goal, correctly identifying problems, solutions, and costs, then convincing everybody that this solution is the best option and supporting clients and asset owners to figure out how to make the project happen. Overcoming those roadblocks, getting the project off the ground, and actually seeing it being physically built is quite exciting and rewarding. I get a lot of pleasure out of that – it’s what makes me the happiest at work.

The freedom to develop your career in the direction you want it to go.

One of the aspects I like the most about my role is the variety. At Woods you are given a lot of autonomy which means I’m able to do different things; I’m not just locked into one speciality but can dabble in all the disciplines. But if variety isn’t your thing and you do want to specialize, Woods lets you do that as well. You’re given quite a bit of freedom to develop your career in the direction you want it to go. The attitude at Woods is that it doesn’t matter who you are and what role you are in or what your current skill level is – if you have a good attitude and the ability to actually improve, they will recognise that and walk you through the process. It’s definitely been an interesting journey!

Joanne Cochrane – Associate Engineer, Team Leader