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Building legacies, from Southern Cross to the Metro Tunnel

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To mark International Women’s Day this March, the Metro Tunnel Project is celebrating the brilliant women leaders working on our city-shaping project.

Meet Linda Cantan, package director tunnels and stations for the Metro Tunnel Project.

Born in Dublin, Ms Cantan’s entry into the infrastructure industry turned her from a chartered accountant to a construction all-rounder. She arrived in Australia from Ireland to work at KPMG, but quickly got involved in the world of infrastructure.

“I’ve worked on projects including Southern Cross Station, the Convention Centre, EastLink, schools and hospitals,” she said.

Ms Cantan is looking forward to the Metro Tunnel’s five new stations becoming legacy landmarks, each with its own character and reference to its surroundings.

The scale, look, feel and finish of the stations would impress Victorians for generations to come, she said.

“At Arden Station, we have a nod to the area’s industrial history; at Anzac Station, there’ll be a big timber canopy as a nod to the boulevard and the Botanic Gardens. At each location, we’ve tried to capture the essence of that part of the city.”

The infrastructure industry in Australia looks a lot different now to in years past, when many engineers found themselves having to travel overseas to maintain a career.

“If they want to, engineers starting today can spend their whole career in Melbourne,” she said.

“We have a lot of construction projects, especially in rail, and they’ll keep going for the next 10, 20, 30 years.

“Instead of having to follow projects around the world, you now have the opportunity for a career in Melbourne that can be varied and give a wide range of experience.”

While there was a time when construction was strictly the domain of men, the number of women entering the industry grows each year.

Ms Cantan said it was still rare to see women in senior construction management positions, but Rail Projects Victoria – the government agency delivering the Metro Tunnel – was playing a role in tackling the gender imbalance.

“I think at RPV we do a good job,” she said.

“Some of it is getting the candidates. Sometimes you don’t get a huge number of female candidates applying, so it goes back to basics – you need to get women into universities and get them out with practical work experience.”

“You also have to be flexible and acknowledge that often women will have children and take extended leave.”

Ms Cantan has one important piece of advice for her friends with daughters: “I tell them, if their girls are interested in maths, get them into engineering!” •

For more information: metrotunnel.vic.gov.au

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