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Megan McLaughlin's Transcontinental Leap from Finlay to Franna

From the lush landscapes of Ireland, where Megan McLaughlin began her career cultivating her engineering skills at Finlay, to the sun-soaked shores of Australia, where she now thrives as an engineer for Franna pick and carry cranes. Megan shares her story of how she has transferred her skills across continents to develop her career while exploring the amazing opportunities Australia has to offer. 

Tell us how you got into engineering

Growing up I was always outside, helping my father on the farm, working on the next quick fix made from off cuts and old gates. In secondary school [Sacred Heart College, Omagh] I realised how much I enjoyed STEM subjects, which led me to studying BEng (Hons) Clean Technology at Ulster University. This degree was multi-disciplinary and encompassed mechanical, electrical, and environmental modules.

What was your first role within Terex?

I joined Finlay, Omagh in August 2021 as a Graduate Design Engineer. The graduate programme is a structured two-year programme that allowed me to experience the key functions of the business - Design, Manufacturing, Test and Development, Production and Customer Support. My favourite was Production as I got to follow the process from the machine shop, to being a fitter in the conveyor, power unit, and main build sheds. After three months in Production, I left with a stronger understanding of our products.

Within the Engineering department, I was a part of the Project Costing Team where we worked on various cost reduction activities, such as costing of sub-assemblies for quoting purposes, enabling the standardising of parts, machine noise testing and much more.

What was the highlight of working in that role?

In the Project Costing Team, thanks to my manager, Mairead, and supervisor, Rob, I was involved in a lot of workshops, events, training opportunities and machine testing days. I became a Terex STEM NI Ambassador, working with local schools, giving students an insight into my day at Terex as an engineer.

Where did you learn about the opportunity to transfer to Franna?

I reached out to Christine from the Franna HR team via the HR team in Omagh/Dungannon. I met with Mike the Principal Engineer and learnt more about the business, the role, and upcoming projects in the Engineering department. After a successful interview and a long plane journey, I am now here and a member of a talented team facing new challenges and learning every day.

What interested you in making the move?

It was the next step for me. I have always wanted to live abroad. I choose Australia for multiple reasons, my brother lived in Sydney for years and loved it, the stunning beaches and national parks, the active lifestyle, the diverse wildlife scene, and then there is the large population of Irish expats. I reached out to Stephen McKee who relocated from Dungannon to Melbourne with Terex Washing Systems. He had only wonderful things to say. From there I was set on coming to Australia.

What was involved in the process?

The process of moving country was a very straightforward. The Australian immigration platform is easy to navigate and once you have all your documents ready it can take an hour to complete your application. Once my visa was granted by immigration, I was booking flights.

I decided to travel Southeast Asia for a couple of months before landing in Brisbane. Once I was in Australia, I had a to-do list consisting of account set-ups, clubs I wanted to check-out, and areas I liked to find accommodation. These all took time and finding accommodation can be draining but it all worked out.

How did Terex assist with the relocation?

Christine from Franna HR was great, offered advice, and reassurance along the way. The communication throughout my journey over to Brisbane was comforting and reassuring. Once I landed in Brisbane, Christine had organised temporary accommodation for two weeks, this helped massively, and gave me a base to find my long-term accommodation.

What are you doing in your current role with Franna?

My role in Franna is Junior Design Engineer. After my initial training period I started into working on production engineering changes as this allowed me to actively learn the Franna change management process and familiarise myself with the CAD software. Currently I’m involved in a large engineering project, providing administration and design support. Alongside this project there are smaller compliance and continuous improvement projects happening together with facilitating production with quality queries, parts issues, documentation, and implementation of new customer options, and much more. The opportunity to work on a variety of tasks has been the best way to learn the new products and how Franna operate.

How has this experience benefited you, as a person, and in your career?

Moving from my hometown of Omagh to Brisbane took me completely out of my comfort zone, I was reliant on google maps and knew nobody in Brisbane. The first couple of months was all go setting up my new life and going to socials to meet new people. I love getting travel recommendations from people that have lived in Brisbane their whole life.

I have faced issues, mostly car related, that I would have relied on my dad for. The little knockbacks do hit harder being so far away from home, but I became more resilient and have learnt far more from dealing with them on my own or reaching out to others.

My career has also benefited from the move, I am in a smaller department with more variety of tasks, I could be on a documentation task and next I could be supporting electrical in routing to a new component location. Every day is a learning day.

What are the differences in the workplace?

As in Omagh, the Franna team are guided by the Terex Way values. The Franna team members are incredibly supportive of each other within and across the departments. There is a strong chain of support and willingness to take time to share knowledge to best complete tasks that will ultimately benefit our customers and investors.

How have you settled into the Australian way of life?

I have settled into life in Brisbane I have made new connections, joined new clubs, I like to make the most of my weekends and holidays travelling as much as possible of Queensland the bordering New South Wales, and further down into the state of Victoria. My highlight to date would have to be snorkeling in the Great Barrier reef, it was a pinch me moment for sure.

Thanks to Megan for taking the time to give us a detailed insight into her working life and the process of relocating and joining a new team. Hopefully this interview inspires others to follow in her footsteps.