Great beaches but less cookies: the pros and cons of working in the Mipac Perth office

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8 min read

Secondary offices (like satellite offices) are frequently touted to benefit staff who work in them, as they can increase convenience, improve collaboration among team members, give a company access to local talent and reduce costs. They also enable improved understanding of regional needs and operating environments.

But these offices are not without their challenges: employees may feel isolated and disconnected from colleagues at HQ, have less access to training and resources, face communication and connectivity hurdles or have a decreased exposure to, and experience of, the company’s culture.

We sat down with the Mipac Perth team to chat about their experiences of working in Mipac’s Western Australia office.

An intentional move

When Mipac first established its permanent Perth office in Western Australia, the company’s leadership team was intentional about ensuring Mipac’s strong company culture – built over 20+ years of operating in Brisbane, Queensland – was carried across.

Part of this strategy was relocating Senior Project Manager Virgilio Bay and his family from Brisbane to Perth.

“I’d been part of the Brisbane office for four years,” Virgilio explains, “So I was able to take the Mipac values, attitudes, behaviours and standards with me to the Mipac Perth office.”

Virgilio says that strategies like recruiting for values and culture alignment, ensuring constant contact with the Brisbane office, maintaining the same standards and workflows and having weekly catchups among Perth staff have helped to build a strong sense of team and company culture in Perth.

Three smiling men (Virgilio Bay, Sandro Cella and Raja Ganguli from the Mipac Perth office) enjoying a lunch in a restaurant
Virgilio Bay, Sandro Cella and Raja Ganguli from the Mipac Perth office. Building a strong team culture has been a priority for Mipac from the beginning, no matter where staff are located.

The early days

In the early days, there were only three Mipac Perth team members. Friday after work drinks and catch-ups quickly became the norm and team members agree that this helped to strengthen team bonds.

“We’d always make an effort to talk socially, not just about work, on those Friday afternoons,” says Business Development Manager Stephen Allan, one of the original team members.

“This really helped us to get to know each other. We genuinely care and look out for each other too.”

Today, though it’s still small, the Mipac Perth team feels like a family – albeit an adopted one, thanks to its diversity in backgrounds and nationalities.

Virgilio says the team’s size is part of what makes it so inclusive:

“The smaller Mipac Perth team allows for greater accountability, engagement, autonomy and flexibility – it fosters great trust among the team members. We really are like a family,” he says.

What do the other Mipac Perth team members say about working in the Perth office?

Read on to find out.

The pros and cons of working in the Mipac Perth office

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Stephen Allan, Business Development Manager

What’s the best thing about being part of the Mipac Perth team?

There are several aspects about being in the Perth team which makes being here enjoyable. As colleagues, our chats around the coffee machine bring us closer together and help us to get to know each other better. We have a good camaraderie. We are there to lend an ear if needed.

Perth is the best place on earth… it may be a nanny state, but it works. Oh, and the beaches are fantastic with lots of wildlife…. sharks being one of them. The wine is good but I do prefer a NZ Sauv Blanc! 🙂

What’s the hardest thing about being part of the Mipac Perth team?

The tyranny of distance – not being able to walk around the corner (or up the stairs) to have a quick chat to a Brisbane-based colleague on work related items. (It’s not always easy to get hold of people on Teams.)

Time difference can also be challenging, but I am normally at my desk by 7:15am (with a coffee) and available on mobile from 6:30am. 

The VPN does drop out now and again, but it’s not a train smash.

We don’t have the drinks in the office that our Brisbane colleagues enjoy. We do, however, have a ‘Mipac Perth Social Club’ and Phil Westerhuis is doing a good job in arranging events. 

Finally, trying to get good staff is a challenge as the market is buoyant and competing with salaries seems to be an issue. This makes it difficult to win business when we don’t have the staff to deliver.

Man's profile photo on white background

Sandro Cella, Senior Project Manager

What’s the best thing about being part of the Mipac Perth team?

Mipac has a great team in Perth as well as in Brisbane. And Perth has fabulous beaches.

Picture of Cottesloe Beach in Perth, Western Australia on a sunny day. Picture shows white sand, people lying in sand and a historical building in the background surrounded by pine trees.
Cottesloe Beach, Western Australia
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Virgilio Bay, Senior Project Manager

What’s the best thing about being part of the Mipac Perth team?

Perth is one of the most livable cities I’ve experienced. It has a great work-life balance – expansive parks, famous beaches only 15 minutes away and the weather is fantastic!

At work, every individual has an important role to play in the growth of the Perth office – creating a natural sense of ownership. The Perth office has also helped increase our customer base and allowed Mipac to provide better customer service.

 

Profile photo of a man in a business shirt and suit jacket on a white background.

Akshay Kareliya,
Senior Control Systems Engineer

What’s the best thing about being part of the Mipac Perth team?

There’s more office space and Virgilio is a good mentor.

What’s the hardest thing about being part of the Mipac Perth team?

Dependence on VPN, limited access to the project technical lead due to time zone differences and missing social interactions with the greater Mipac team.

VPN meme - shows a picture of a man looking at the camera saying 'one does not simply connect to the VPN.'

Phil Westerhuis,
Senior Process Engineer

What’s the best thing about being part of the Mipac Perth team?

We have a great, close-knit team – everyone says good morning to each other and makes each other feel very welcome. We generally do events (office lunches, coffees, etc.) as a whole.


What’s the hardest thing about being part of the Mipac Perth team?

Being away from the larger Mipac team with the only contact via Microsoft Teams meetings instead of genuine face to face interactions can be tricky. 

Also, Lunch and Learns [regular Mipac training events, held at 12pm in the Brisbane office] start at 10, so we are forced to take lunch break early if we want to attend or else try to work whilst watching, which is not as effective.

Scott Stewart, Senior Control Systems Engineer

What’s the best thing about being part of the Mipac Perth team?

The team is lead very well by Virgilio and we get to go to some great beaches before and after work!

What’s the hardest thing about being part of the Mipac Perth team?

The VPN does have issues with speed and occasional dropouts, with reconnection issues, but that is not a massive concern. 

[Being quite new to the Mipac Perth team,] I am still getting used to working on a project with a team that is half in Brisbane and half in Perth. Again, this is not problematic, just different.

Elisabet Guri, Senior Control Systems Engineer

What’s the best thing about being part of the Mipac Perth team?

The best thing about being part of Mipac’s Perth team is the vibrant multicultural environment. Colleagues are incredibly supportive and collaborative, fostering a sense of unity. Starting the day with Raja’s cheerful “Good morning” and seeing smiling faces sets a positive tone for the day.

What’s the hardest thing about being part of the Mipac Perth team?

Well, besides mastering the art of long-distance relationships with every other city, it’s the absence of face-to-face interaction with our Brisbane crew. And let’s not forget being too far away from Madonna’s cookies!

Two men in high visibility shirts sitting in a mine site office holding up a cookie each from a tin.
Long-term, Brisbane-based Mipac staff member Madonna Mobbs regularly bakes cookies for Mipac staff travelling to site.
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Raja Ganguli, Control Systems Engineer

What’s the best thing about being part of the Mipac Perth team?

One of the best aspects of being part of the Mipac team in the Perth office is the opportunity for professional growth and development. Working with Mipac provides access to a diverse range of projects and clients in the mining, minerals processing and industrial automation sectors. This exposure allows team members to gain valuable experience across various facets of engineering, technology and project management.

Additionally, Mipac fosters a collaborative and supportive work environment where employees are encouraged to innovate and challenge themselves. Team members in the Perth office have the chance to collaborate with colleagues from different backgrounds and expertise areas, contributing to a dynamic and enriching workplace culture.

Furthermore, Mipac’s commitment to excellence and client satisfaction means that employees are given the opportunity to work on cutting-edge projects and deliver innovative solutions to industry challenges. This can be highly rewarding for professionals looking to make a meaningful impact in their field.

Overall, being part of the Mipac team in the Perth office offers the chance to grow professionally, work on exciting projects, and be part of a supportive and collaborative team environment.

What’s the hardest thing about being part of the Mipac Perth team?

The hardest things about being part of the Mipac team from the Perth office, with the head office in Brisbane, Australia, are the distance and time zone difference between the two locations. This geographical separation can pose challenges in terms of communication, collaboration, and alignment of goals and objectives. Scheduling meetings, coordinating projects and ensuring effective communication can be more complicated due to the physical distance and the potential for delays in response times.

Conclusion

With big changes expected for the Mipac Perth team over the coming months, thanks to Mipac’s recent acquisition of Paradigm Engineers, it will be exciting to see how the team and culture develop.

“It’s exciting times for Mipac, with the collaboration with Paradigm,” Stephen says. “I’m really looking forward to it.”

Scott agrees: “I feel this is the beginning of a big thing – Mipac WA will grow with every project that is completed. I feel excited to be a part of that team and growth.”

Watch this space!

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