Amer Aboul-Hosn

“In rail you’re always surprised with what you find, what you learn and who you interact with.”
Engineer in hard hat on rail construction site.
Engineer in hard hat on rail construction site.

Senior Project Manager, Yarra Trams

Background: Engineer

"Many engineering projects go for two years and then just end. Rail is a slow, steady job for the long run. Most people think working in Yarra Trams means you are a tram driver. But I’m a Senior Project Manager in the Yarra Trams Infrastructure department.

I started here four years ago as a Project Manager, responsible for delivering Infrastructure related project including scoping the project, appointing design and construction contractors, reviewing designs drawings, undertaking risk assessments, stakeholder engagement and quality assurances. Now, that I’m the Senior Project Manager, I’m responsible for delivering infrastructure renewal projects on infrastructure that was constructed over 50 years ago.

As part of a renewals project, we replace old tracks with newer approved infrastructure. It incorporates the overhead renewals, utilising  Yarra Trams overhead crew so that the trams can receive power.

We also have a substation crew who undertake essential power works to keep the network energised and a track team that undertake maintenance works where needed.

We have a lot of stakeholders whom we need to consult before a job can go ahead: local councils, the Department of Transport and Planning, water utilities, community members, sometimes the Minister’s office when we need to get a project up and running.

When I was younger I wanted to be an archaeologist but my parents said you need to find a proper job that can sustain you for at least 50 years. I studied petro-geology at the American University of Beirut before working in rail and petroleum in Saudi Arabia and in Australia.

Archaeology is a means to know more about history. Wherever you dig in Beirut, you find something. My first job in Lebanon was as a geological engineer. We found evidence of seven different civilisations buried in one site, some of which were Byzantines, Roman, Phoenicians.

History is still interesting in Australia. If you dig on a light rail project, you might find a huge brick drain that was laid 150 years ago and still stands now. Sometimes you see infrastructure below the ground like the old pulley systems of the trams, the old timber sleepers, the old rails that came from the UK.

One of the good things is that we hire young people, I invest my time in their development. I teach them how things have been working during my time in Yarra Trams but keep encouraging them to put their own mark onto this industry and not just repeat what I do.      

I like rail. It’s not about money. It’s more about the industry itself. The interfaces you get, the technology you learn, the engineering side of it. You’re always surprised with what you find, with what you learn and with whom you interact with.

It’s a nice job because you get to work with local councils and community members; you get to get out of the office and meet people out on the job. Engineering wise, if you work in rail, or light rail, you can work for Metro Tunnels, V-Line, the Department of Transport because you have a knowledge of almost everyone’s assets.

I’m a very content person. My plan is to stay as long as they will have me."

Find out more about how to become a Project Manager by checking out our training pathways pages.