From an apprentice carpenter in regional NSW to the Project Director on the $4.15 billion New M5, David Maytom’s career has seen him build everything from roads, tunnels and power stations to casinos, hospitals and gas plants.
As he celebrates 40 years with CPB Contractors, David looks back on how his career started.
I grew up in Stroud, a historic town in the Hunter Valley, and got a carpentry apprenticeship with a local builder and then worked for a construction company in Newcastle. As I was finishing a post-trade Tech course to qualify as a Building Foremen Clerk of Works, a job came up at a company I had never heard of – Leighton Contractors – and I joined the company in 1980. Leighton, of course, changed its name and is now CPB Contractors.
David’s career has taken him to major projects in Sydney, Brisbane, Auckland, Barrow Island and Adelaide before returning to Sydney.
I worked on projects across the Hunter and in 1991 I moved to Sydney to help on the first stage of the M5. From there I worked on the Sydney Harbour Casino’s Lyric Theatre, the Eastern Distributor, the St Vincent’s Hospital expansion, the ABC Building and the Westlink M7.
Then I worked on Brisbane’s Clem 7, which was a big, exciting tunnel project. Then to Auckland to work on the SH10 to SH1. After that it was the M2 widening project in Sydney and the Gorgon gas project on Barrow Island in WA. Then I took the opportunity to work in Adelaide on the New Royal Adelaide Hospital.
And from there I came back to Sydney to work on the WestConnex New M5 and in 2018 I was appointed as the Project Director.
With four decades of major projects experience to his name, David’s advice to young people starting their careers today is clear.
Be open to opportunities and new things you might not have thought about. CPB Contractors is a big company and provides lots of opportunities to people who want to take them. If you’re going to be very fixed in your thinking, like “I just want to build bridges” or “I only want to work in Sydney,” then you may end up limiting yourself and possibly what you could achieve in your career.The more diverse you are, the better. If you take on something new and excel then people will see you as someone with the skills and experience to do lots of things. And this opens up more opportunities. Never turn down the chance to learn and experience something new.
The biggest change David has seen in the construction industry over the last 40 years.
The role of women has totally changed. In 1980, to have a woman on a major project was extremely rare – it basically didn’t happen. Today, there are more and more women in the industry - in supervisory positions, in engineering and managerial roles. It’s been a positive and much needed change and I have worked to support many women in their careers with our company. We still have a long way to go to get more women into the industry.
How does it feel to go back to a project and use some of the infrastructure you helped build?
I feel very proud of the infrastructure I’ve worked on, and it is great to see these projects are still being used by the community, years or decades later.
We’ve always had lots of good people, committed people, who want to get projects done. The buzz of project work, and doing a good quality job, is what drives people.
Our major asset is people and CPB Contractors’ reputation attracts good people, which is incredibly important.