How Did You Get There? An Interview with Tim Clements

By Kinexus on 9 November 2017

Project Manager at Forgacs, Tim Clements has had a diverse career and is invested in the development of his staff.

We chat to Tim about how he got to where he is today, what has contributed to his success and what advice he has for managing a career in Defence Industry.

What was your first ever job, and what is the most important thing you learnt from it?

I started an apprenticeship in shipbuilding at the age of 15, basically right out of school. I had to get an extraordinary driver’s license to enable me to get to work every day because there was no public transport to the shipyard at the time.

I worked 60-70 hours for $180 a week – I remember how I used to think that was a lot of money.

I was fortunate to have some great mentors and this experience taught me about the importance of leadership. This has formed the foundation for the rest of my career.

What’s surprised you most in your career?

People’s ability to resist change. In every project I have contributed to, there has always been an aspect of change required to reduce cost, mitigate schedule slippage or to do something that might not have been done before. People at first generally will provide all the reasons why something can’t be done a different way, but change always leads to innovation and adds a competitive edge to your business.

Tell me about your current job? What attracted you to it?

As a Project Manager of Forgacs Marine and Defence – a wholly owned subsidiary of Civmec, I’m exposed to a multi-disciplinary business which covers a wide range of skill sets and projects.

I manage all of Forgacs new business enquiries, tenders and project execution. Essentially building the business with the support of Civmec’s suite of core competencies in heavy engineering fabrication, innovation and state of the art facilities – currently the best in Australia. It is an important point that skill sets and facilities developed in oil and gas, mining infrastructure and heavy engineering are utilised and transitioned into defence projects as we embark on the National Shipbuilding Plan.

My current responsibility also includes managing our bid to Luerssen for the SEA 1180 OPV project which is set for imminent announcement.

I was initially attracted to Civmec / Forgacs for the opportunities listed above.  My decision was reinforced when with the business announced its $80m commitment to building Australia’s largest undercover shipbuilding and maintenance facility.

What is most rewarding about your job; what makes it all worthwhile?

There are 2 things that are most rewarding;

  1. The satisfaction of seeing the end product roll out of the workshop and operate in its environment.
  2. The development of young people’s careers under projects that I manage. I enjoy seeing up and coming engineers, apprentices and other staff grow into their future careers. I feel that I can have some influence on their development, having come from a similar path with some great mentors.

What advice do you have for a person wanting to get into Project Management in Defence Industry?

Ensure you have solid experience in all disciplinary aspects of the type of Project Management you intend to undertake. An understanding of how people operate and react under the various pressures that Defence Industry can produce will help you put in place mitigation processes to manage the specific project outcomes.

In all of the projects that I have been a part of, the outcome of the projects, timely delivery and the quality is largely determined by the people’s work ethic, attitude and understanding of the requirements. The Project Manager’s role is to provide support to ensure the team are given what they need to succeed, and that all road blocks are removed – this is vital.

If you had your time over, would you do anything differently in your career?

Absolutely nothing. My career has taken me all over the globe. I have lived and worked in five different countries with many more opportunities to come.

Tim Clements
Project Manager

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