Laing O’Rourke’s Goran Sugarevski tells the story of the Woolgoolga to Ballina Pacific Highway upgrade

Woolgoolga to Ballina Pacific Highway Upgrade Project, The Venture MagazineThe Pacific Highway upgrade is Australia’s largest regional road infrastructure project. The Woolgoolga to Ballina upgrade is the final link in the Pacific Highway between Hexham and the Queensland border to be upgraded to four lanes.

The project includes upgrading the highway to motorway (Class M) or arterial (Class A) standard over its 155-kilometre length, comprised of nine interchanges, more than 170 bridges and more than 350 connectivity structures. It will bypass South Grafton, Ulmarra, Woodburn, Broadwater, and Wardell.

Roads and Maritime Services engaged Pacific Complete, a joint venture between Laing O’Rourke and WSP, as the delivery partner for the Glenugie to Ballina bypass section of the upgrade. The delivery partner model encourages the best ideas and solutions from the private sector while drawing on Roads and Maritime’s knowledge to deliver better engineering and design, customer outcomes, and public value.

Once complete, the upgrade will provide safer and more reliable travel, improved amenities for local communities, and will reduce travel time. The upgraded highway will also play an integral role in reducing fatalities.

A Bold Collaborative Endeavour

Woolgoolga to Ballina Pacific Highway Upgrade Project, The Venture MagazineGoran Sugarevski, Laing O’Rourke’s Director of Administration and Finance, is currently the Finance Director for the Woolgoolga to Ballina upgrade, working for the delivery partner, Pacific Complete.

According to Sugarevski, being part of Australia’s first Delivery Partner brings with it a unique experience. “We’re working with stakeholders at an unprecedented scale and pace to successfully deliver the final link in the Pacific Highway. We’re using the same approach that was implemented for the construction of the London Olympic Games.

“The Delivery Partner Model allows and provides an established avenue for government agencies and private sector organisations to partner in order to utilise and create engineering solutions to further drive efficiency throughout all phases of the project,” Sugarevski said.

“It brings resources from the three organisations into one entity, strengthening the team and creating a collaborative working environment; a culture focused on milestones and on meeting the client’s expectations.”

As Finance Director for the project working for the delivery partner, Sugarevski is more than just a numbers person. Looking after multiple different functions for the project including facility management, project accounts, administrations, and document control, he stated, “To do this, I have had to implement a unique governance and forecasting structure. With the delivery partner being formed for this project, it was like creating a new organisation, meaning all the systems and processes needed to be set up to suit the unique environment we are working in.”

He also touched on the importance of collaboration and why it’s a particularly significant aspect for the Woolgoolga to Ballina upgrade and the role it has played on other projects he has previously worked on. “During my career I have come to understand that a great team requires a combination of skills to come to together and work towards a common objective. It actually takes the combination of our skills to bring about the challenge and deliver the outcome.”

“On the Woolgoolga to Ballina upgrade, collaboration has proven to be critical to the delivery of the project. The Delivery Partner Model has enabled us to drive great collaboration and further draw on the extensive experience of our client and combine this to develop innovative and creative solutions. I don’t think any of us would be able to do it on our own, and so it’s important to not only work together but be smart about the way we work together,” Sugarevski stated.

Meeting the Challenge

Woolgoolga to Ballina Pacific Highway Upgrade Project, The Venture MagazineWorking on large infrastructure projects has not only shown Sugarevski the significance of collaboration, but also the need to be flexible and embrace change. “Large infrastructure projects like this one are very rewarding. I’ve been able to work in areas I wouldn’t normally and in turn challenge myself on a daily basis. It also has the potential to define your career, and I’ve had to be flexible and learn to embrace change.”

“The first big infrastructure project I worked on was at the start of the mining boom over in Western Australia. Taking that opportunity led me to where I am today, working as Finance Director as part of Pacific Complete and Australia’s first Delivery Partner,” he said. “Woolgoolga to Ballina has provided me with another stepping stone to further my career, I continue to challenge myself and I'm aiming to complete my Master of Business Administration by the end of next year.”

When asked about the one thing to take away from a career in construction, Goran raised a significant point, “Take chances, challenge yourself in your environment, and take advantage of the doors that are opening for you and your career. In saying that, ensure you have a good work life balance. As a father, I have a young family and am focused on remaining flexible while I continue to grow my career.”