Inside Mainmark: Morgan Trainer, Mainmark’s Head of Operations – ANZ

What do you do at Mainmark?

I oversee the operations of the company across Australia and New Zealand, which includes managing teams of ground engineering technicians who are dedicated to the remediation of damaged or unstable structures and the protection of assets.

In addition to staffing, I am responsible for the financial performance of the operational business unit, which includes the administrational support for a wide range of projects in the civil, domestic and resource sectors. I also oversee stock control, project scheduling, EHS, accreditation, compliance and training. I support the research and development team, helping them to deliver new products to the market.

What experience prepared you for your current role?

I joined the company as a technician in 2006. Eleven great years later, I’ve gained extensive exposure to a diverse spectrum of projects in the residential, commercial and civil sectors in Australia and abroad. I’ve had the privilege of working under a number of really competent individuals in the organisation, experience which I’ve been able to leverage for my current responsibilities.

With recent growth and change in the company, it is easy to spend your whole time playing catch-up and looking at your feet and not what’s coming up in front of you. The one thing that has helped me in a pragmatic sense is my ground-floor start with the company; having walked in the shoes of many of the people in the company means I can manage the operational teams more effectively.

How did you start in the industry?

After completing my HSC I went directly into construction. After a few years of site-based construction roles, I was introduced to Mainmark and subsequently joined the Sydney operations crew.

One of the great things about Mainmark is the cultural diversity and experience of people in the operational teams. There is no degree or trade for ‘chemical underpinner’ or ‘building lifter’, which means that our operations’ teams can come from anywhere. We’ve got chefs, bricklayers, students, veterans, fitters, mechanics, farmers, accountants… the list goes on. The cultural and ethnic heritages of our teams is also varied, with staff from Europe, North and South America, New Zealand, the Middle East, Asia, the sub-continent and Africa. This diversity helps foster a tolerant and inclusive workforce, and also a unique approach to how we problem-solve and apply Mainmark’s various technologies.

What qualities do you need to be a successful operations manager?

Operations management is a clever way of saying ‘being organised, problem solving and getting it done’. By nature, ‘operations’ is any moving part within a business, so I’ve never had the luxury of saying ‘that’s not my job’.

In short, I believe the three most important behaviours for the role are fairness, consistency and prioritisation. Staff and clients need to be treated fairly or they won’t work for you or engage with you. You need to be consistent in your working relationships or you won’t cultivate trust or respect. You also need to put the needs of the organisation and/or project above all else. It’s this last point that is the hardest to live by as it often means asking people to go above and beyond. Luckily, in Mainmark we have diligent teams that do this organically.

What’s the most challenging project you’ve worked on while at Mainmark?

The ‘Mum and Dad’s’ house corner or sinking floor is always going to be the most challenging type of project. Far more than a large mine, airport or other public infrastructure. The reason for this is that you are dealing with emotion and personal investment.

In the industrial world you are working with engineers and construction professionals that view a structure as a structure. It has a foundational deficiency and we are applying a methodology to correct this. If there is a problem, it can be overcome with the next iteration of the plan and when everyone’s finished work, they go home.

Homeowners are the opposite. Structures aren’t just structures – they are people’s homes where they have built memories and hold the futures and dreams of the family. Their children are sleeping under those cracks in the ceiling and the house is most likely the owner’s most significant investment. Complicating this further, the owner generally has absolutely no idea about construction or subsidence and they are likely to know even less about underpinning or the application of resin injection. This is when the supervisor becomes the educator and, if they’re lucky – the hero! Our supervisors do a great job.

What are you passionate about?

One of my goals is to provide opportunities for junior staff in the company in the same way I experienced early in my career.

Through my staffing and HR responsibilities, I’ve also become a strong advocate for the employment of veterans following an initiative seeded by my predecessor. It is astounding how many employers dismiss ex-military candidates, who are often marginalised when seeking work, once they leave the forces. This out-of-touch perception of veterans is worrisome.

In August 2015, Mainmark approached Ironside Recruitment to assist with finding staff for our growing equipment and maintenance business unit in Cardiff. Mainmark formed a partnership with Ironside Recruitment and together we recently made a submission for the Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Awards 2018.

Our veterans are men and women who have been exposed to some of the world’s most advanced technologies, robotics, communications, artificial intelligence and aerospace engineering. I believe many defence personal are highly capable and experienced leaders who deserve to be recognised for their skillsets.

For our business, looking to lead the world in advanced engineering solutions, we’ve found a hidden source of employees who are eager for work and willing to learn, and I’ve become passionate about breaking down stereotypes.

In my personal life, I turn my focus to children and family. I’m also passionate about sport – I still play rugby and touch footy – and manage to squeeze in some community work as well. This includes supporting my rugby club, the Sydney Convicts, where we have a number of initiatives that promote diversity in the sporting arena, supporting young men and women with drug and alcohol dependency, those affected by domestic violence and some indigenous activism.

By Morgan Trainer

Morgan Trainer is Head of Operations for ANZ at Mainmark.  He has 16 years’ experience working in the construction industry and is responsible for ensuring the successful delivery of Mainmark projects.