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Story / Corporate 16 Feb 2017

Meet the grads - Scott Manning

What attracted you to apply for the Sydney Water Graduate Program?

I was attracted to the graduate program due to the scope of opportunities available. We had the chance to do 4 yearly rotations, which gave us enough time to take on meaningful projects and contribute to each team but also to see different roles Sydney Water has to offer. This was incredibly useful for me coming straight from university, as it allowed me to explore multiple interests and ensured I could continue down a career path I enjoyed.

What’s the best part about working for Sydney Water?

The best part would be working in an organisation that aims to improve the liveability of Sydney. While we do have our ‘financial hats’ on with every project we do here, not all of our activities are profit driven. There is a strong culture and understanding that the projects we do must be in our customer’s best interest. I value working at a company that aims to improve the society in which I live, and it is very rare to find such an opportunity in full time work.

What’s been your proudest moment at Sydney Water?

Last year, I identified and acted on an innovative solution that led to multiple business opportunities. Part of my team focus on predicting water demand across Sydney, and mentioned that the data they have for swimming pool ownership, which typically results in a higher water usage, was incomplete and potentially outdated. I built a program that extracts images of every property across Sydney and then analysed for the presence of a pool, which had an accuracy of 91%. When this project was presented it generated interest of colleagues in Sydney Water, and resulted in similar projects being undertaken.

Have you worked in the one team/one role or moved about? Where have you worked?

My first rotation was in environmental science, which allowed me to get out in the field and see first-hand how Sydney Water manages impacts of their activities. I then moved into data analytics where I have been for the last two years. I’ve had numerous roles here which has allowed to explore the scope of data science, including numerical modelling, machine learning, image processing and statistical analyses.

What about the future of Sydney Water that excites you most?

Sydney Water is embracing technological change, and is striving to meet industry best practice in how we run the business.  As I work in data analytics, I am excited that we are bringing in the best practices and streamlining processes which will make our day to day jobs more efficient and set the platform for innovations which customers will benefit from in the long run.

What’s something you want to achieve or accomplish this year? 

If you aren’t analytically focused, then data can be very dry and boring. This means that a lot of insights potentially go unnoticed and don’t gain full benefits from a team of analysts. One of my main goals this year is to develop skills in a programming language called 'D3.js' – a mix between HTML, javascript, SVG and CSS. Most people would have seen something produced by D3.js in a web application, but what is essentially does is makes data interactive, so the user can click or hover over certain sections of a graphic to explore the data themselves. It is this idea of making “data jump off the page” that I want to introduce to Sydney Water and change the way we look at, and handle data to make better decisions.

How do you balance your career and other commitments? Has working at Sydney Water helped you in any way?

Sydney Water offers very flexible working arrangements for staff which makes it much easier to balance all my commitments outside of work. For me, I’m able to take on post graduate studies, social sport and other hobbies. Thanks to the flexible working hours Sydney Water offers, I can adjust my hours accordingly to make sure I can make the most of my time after work.

What advice would you give to people who want to or are considering applying to Sydney Water’s Graduate Program?

Sydney Water is a great way to launch your career and really understand where your passion is. You will working towards a great cause and be in a very supportive and vibrant culture.

With the application, I would say take your time and be sure to spend equal effort on every question. Your answer to these questions is the first thing that hiring managers will see and shape their first impression of you. Also, while grades and performance at university is important, it isn’t everything. Sydney Water is keen on hiring all round individuals who can fit in to any team, so be sure to mention any personal interests such as sport or volunteering that you do outside of university or part time work.