My Year (and a bit) in Australia - Nadya Vicente

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Normally based in California working for our Science and Environment Team, Nadya was given the opportunity to work on one of Australia's largest remediation projects. She reflects on her year (and a bit) in Australia, the ins and outs of her secondment, the good, the bad and the dusty!
Cardno employee Nadya Vicente at Uluru

Cardno employee Nadya Vicente at dirt project site

You were seconded to Melbourne, Australia from California, United States. How did the secondment come about?

Our Science & Environment team were notified of an opportunity to work at a large remediation site and requested any volunteers for the project.

Our team has a good work history and experience with the client. I put my hand up given my previous experience working with the client and I thought it would be a fantastic opportunity to live in a country I’ve always wanted to visit.

What was the process of getting the secondment? 

After being short-listed, the next step was interviewing with the Cardno management team for the project to make sure I was compatible and what they were looking for. We discussed the scope, living arrangements, expectations and terms of the contract. Once that process was complete, the logistical process began - applying for a temporary work visa, going through background checks and then planning for travel (moving personal items abroad) and getting flights to coincide with a project start date.

What was your role on the project?

I was the Primary Site Supervisor which included subcontractor and Cardno team management, ensuring client safety program was being followed and employed at all times, and being a bridge between the Cardno project management team and onsite personnel.



What was the highlight of your secondment and time in Australia?

I can’t narrow it to just one! Being part of the awesome project crew and making new friends, having the opportunity to see various parts of Australia – including the Australian Open tennis tournament, Uluru, the Great Barrier Reef, live cricket matches and kangaroos of course!

What was your favourite thing about Australia? Anything you miss now that you're home?

My favourite things were the people, interesting history, the landscapes, the Australian culture, the amazing coffee and meat pies :)
I miss everything! – except for the crazy wind storms at the project site!

Was there anything you really missed about home during your time in Australia? 

I missed friends and family the most.

Cardno employee Nadya Vicente with team from project

COVID would have been right in the middle of your secondment. What changes did you experience during this time?

The most obvious one was staying home and not being able to travel freely. But honestly, I was very fortunate to be living in country Victoria during the lockdown.

Did COVID-19 impact the project? How?

Not really in the grand scheme of things - We were really fortunate actually, to be able to keep the project going through the pandemic. Changes were made on site to keep people safe and the project on track – for example – limiting the number of people in the lunchroom (social distancing measures), wearing face masks, requesting people who felt ill for any reason to stay home.

How did you overcome the impacts COVID-19 placed on the project?

We just kept focused on the simple things – getting through our project safely, reinforcing the fact that even though we had lockdown measures in place, our job would keep going if everyone worked together. Also, given the various stresses on people, whether work, personal or pandemic related – we had ups and downs for sure, but overall, It was a great team effort by everyone involved to overcome any adversity brought on by COVID-19. Exceptionally proud of that!


Cardno employee Nadya Vicente skydiving in the Australian outback

How did the project make a difference?

Environmentally - the hydrocarbon impacts have been removed and the property restored to a healthier natural state.

Economically – there is potential for the property to have other uses and perhaps create employment opportunities for the area.


What advice would you give to someone presented with a secondment opportunity (and there were no travel restrictions)? 

Go for it! Be open to new experiences, opportunities, and get out of your comfort zone. Also, you don’t need as much as you think you do – pack light (you’ll thank yourself at the airport!)


Want an experience like Nadya? See what Cardno can offer you.