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A day in the life of Stuart Cassin

by Australian Road Research Board on January 21, 2021

This month we're giving you an insight into what life at ARRB is like.

We will be covering the stories of several ARRB employees in the different Strategic Working Groups. Next up, we have Stuart Cassin from our Road Asset Performance team.

Stuart C

What does a day in your life look like?
One of the things that I like about my job is that very few two days are the same. My role as a Data Collection Project Manager, focused on Ride Quality and Dilapidation Testing, means that a lot of different roles and activities fill my days so there’s always some variety. From working with clients to get their projects set up and delivered, to quoting jobs, to doing the field data collection or processing the data, there’s a lot of different directions my day can take. The bulk of the projects I’m involved with have an immediate and real impact on our clients bottom line – without an ARRB test as part of their final delivery, they don’t get paid for their work – so there’s an added responsibility of delivering a service in a timely and accurate fashion. The challenge of managing and delivery of all those projects is something that I enjoy.
As a former field surveyor, I have experience in operating most of the equipment in our fleet so there’s occasional calls to help out on other projects. Being able to jump in an iSSAVe (Intelligent Safe Surface Assessment Vehicle), iPAVe (Intelligent Pavement Assessment Vehicle) or a Network Survey Vehicle to keep a job ticking over, and add some Project Management experience on the ground level is always a handy thing across our projects.

What made you decide to get into your field?
I arrived here via a very circuitous route. Having had roles in the transport industry, WH&S, Spatial Data / Data Collection and some operations management, it was almost like I was doing an apprenticeship for my role in the Road Asset Performance Team. Many aspects of my previous roles have informed and assisted in my work at ARRB which, I believe, has improved the quality of my work. I was actually a former customer of ARRB, having bought a Hawkeye 1000 system many years ago to employ in footpath surveying, so I was well aware of the company and what they do before given the opportunity to work here. I started as a field surveyor and was lucky enough to secure a role in Project Management.

What are your favourite and least favourite parts of your job?
My favourite part of the job is the variety and, in particular, the opportunity to see the country. Road trips to complete data collection jobs are always a bonus – a bright sunny day, driving through the country, in the mountains or along the coast is a pretty good day at the office! Another highlight is working with my colleagues to find innovative ways to address unusual or difficult challenges posed by individual projects or the data collection schedule generally. I love it when a plan comes together.
The least favourite is when people who don't know what we do or how we do it, try and dictate how the job gets done.

Name a career highlight of yours
There’s no specific moment but there’s certainly been a few times when things have gone particularly sideways during a couple of projects – it happens - and it’s fallen to my colleagues and I to step up and find a solution. On those occasions we came through and delivered. Also having had a couple of larger clients single out the efforts of the data collection team for specific thanks and praise makes the headaches worthwhile.

What advice would you give for someone wanting to work in the industry?

The Road Asset Performance part of the business is a very unique beast, a real niche. Field work involves a lot of time away from home, lots of travel to interesting places and regularly having to explain to people that “no, we’re not the Google Maps car”. The Project Management side really tests your juggling skills so you have to be pretty agile, think on your feet and quick to adapt. There are multiple jobs on the go all the time, ranging from a week to many months, and they all deserve your best efforts and utmost attention as things tend to change daily.

Read about the lives of other ARRB staff here:

The pavement engineer

The road safety expert

The road surveyor

The labs researcher

Road survey logistics

Topics: ARRB News, ARRB, Australian Road Research Board, Transport Data