An avid sailor with plenty of experience under his belt as a member of the New Zealand Olympic Yachting Squad, and an eye to represent the country at the America’s Cup one day, Mr. Martin had some clear goals in mind after finishing high school.
Like anyone looking to build a successful career, he still needed a back-up plan.
Mr. Martin’s mother recommended he look at his options and attend a handful of career fairs and expos before choosing a path after high school.
“She took me around a few careers fairs and civil engineering came up,” he says. “As my strengths were maths and science, and mum indicated that the America’s Cup skipper at the time, Russell Coutts, was an engineer, I decided to give it a go.”
That decision ultimately set him on the road to success, one that has seen the 28-year-old achieve much in a short time, including being named this year’s AustStab Young Stabiliser of the Year.
Mr. Martin received the coveted award, which recognises his extensive efforts within the Australian stabilisation sector, at the 2016 AustStab Awards of Excellence in July.
The title is given to a professional aged 35 years and younger, who has shown significant achievements in the pavement stabilising sector. Not only this, but the individual has demonstrated an understanding of the role of stabilisation and shows proficiency in the use of communication skills in such projects.
Mr. Martin’s success is a testament to his work both around Australia for Stabilised Pavements of Australia (SPA) and his early beginnings as part of the Hiway Stabilizers team in New Zealand.
His passion for construction developed during his childhood growing up in Auckland. “Dad was into landscaping and I kind of grew up in and around the construction industry, working with him as soon as I was old enough to lift a shovel, labouring, operating machinery and finally, supervising in my teens on many large landscaping projects,” he says.
Before finishing high school, Mr. Martin did a summer internship with Fulton Hogan. This gave him his first taste of road construction and helped inform his decision to study civil engineering at the University of Auckland.
During his studies Jed approached Hiway Stabilizers, based in Silverdale north of Auckland, for part-time work during his holiday breaks. He came under the tutelage of the firm’s Technical Manager, Allen Browne.
“I learnt a lot through Allen and I discovered a lot more about the industry. He proceeded to teach me as much as he could within a short amount of time,” says Mr. Martin.
“Straight away they must have seen potential in me because they threw me in the deep end.”
Mr. Martin worked on a range of stabilisation jobs around New Zealand during his stint at Hiway Stabilizers. Projects generally included foamed bitumen stabilisation, granular overlays, excavating and replacing large quantities of unsuitable material, road reshaping and re-levelling, cutting table drains, varying seal designs and a large degree of geotechnical testing.
It was through this work and having the guidance of Mr. Browne that saw him gain a real passion for the stabilisation sector.
“I enjoy the industry. You’re not just stuck in an office all the time. You get to go out and build the roads, which many engineers don’t get to do,” he says.
“Stabilisation is the way of the future for the road construction industry with its strong focus on recycling and sustainable practices. It’s quicker, cheaper and reduces stress on resources and adjoining road networks compared to traditional construction methods.”
In his spare time, Mr. Martin undertook research into improving stabilisation techniques and methodologies in line with the constantly evolving industry. This involved continuing research alongside Mr. Browne and the New Zealand Transport Agency Stabilisation Working Group to help progress the technical aspects of stabilisation practice in New Zealand.
Mr. Martin graduated from the University of Auckland in 2009 with First Class Honours in Civil Engineering and was also awarded the New Zealand Automobile Association prize for top student in Highway and Pavement Engineering that same year.
He continued on full time with Hiway Stabilizers until 2011, when he moved to Australia.
It wasn’t just the Australian weather that drew Mr. Martin across the ditch either.
He explains that the larger country provided more challenges and opportunities in different sectors of road construction.
“After graduation, I was holidaying in the US for three months and thinking about going into mining, which I’m glad I didn’t,” he explains. “Because I dealt with so much road stabilisation at Hiway Stabilizers, I looked for stabilisation companies in Australia and SPA came up.”
After making contact with SPA, Mr. Martin quickly came on board as a Project Engineer for the specialist stabilisation firm.
Since starting with SPA five years ago, he has worked for main roads departments, local government and private entities in almost every state and territory, bar the Northern Territory and Tasmania.
In 2012 and at just age 24, he completed his first multi-million dollar stabilisation project as Project Manager for SPA, completing Isaac Regional Council’s stabilisation program in Middlemount, Queensland.
The LOT Albany Highway Upgrade from Armidale to Kojonup in Western Australia, in 2014 saw Mr. Martin lead a team of up to 42 staff. This was Mr. Martin’s first job working as a project manager for a main roads division and, at 26 years old, he became one of the youngest individuals to do so on such a project in the country.
The upgrade involved widespread pre-construction investigation and planning, initial site surveying, drainage works, minor widening and overlays, and shape correction. This was followed by quicklime and bitumen emulsion stabilisation, compaction and final trimming, as well as various seal coats.
The project covered various patches of road over a 200-kilometre stretch of highway for Main Roads Western Australia, and was completed ahead of time and well under budget.
Mr. Martin has headed other major projects, including an extensive program of works recently completed for the City of Gold Coast (which received the 2016 AustStab award for Excellence in Recycling in Stabilised Pavements in Local Government) and the Tweed Shire Council Stabilisation Program for 2016.
He continued his studies in his spare time, eventually earning a Diploma of Project Management from the IPS Institute in 2014.
Mr. Martin explains that the diversity of the Australian stabilisation sector and the different challenges it brings have been major factors in his enjoyment and success within the industry.
“In New Zealand there’s one authority that covers the entire country. Every Australian state has a main road authority and different specifications. Travelling around each region, you get a really wide picture of stabilisation as a whole because of those experiences,” he says. “It’s definitely helping to expand my knowledge.”
While Mr. Martin is just the second individual to be awarded the Young Stabiliser of the Year title (Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads’ Damian Volker received the inagural award in 2015) he’s ecstatic at what the honour means not only for his career, but also for the other younger engineers working their way up through the ranks.
“It’s an amazing achievement because it gets your name out there. It’s good to be recognised by the top people in the industry and make those connections,” adds Mr. Martin.
He explains that recognising the younger leaders in the industry, such as Mr. Volker and his efforts within the field of foamed bitumen, is an important step for Australia’s stabilisation sector. He says companies that foster the growth of its younger engineers, such as SPA, are helping the industry, particularly as the emphasis shifts towards more sustainable and environmentally friendly practice.
“SPA is one of those businesses that is great at coming up with creative solutions with a high quality result,” he says.
“All firms are making that shift to sustainable practice. It’s one of those things that’s going to improve in the future ,as aggregates become more scarce and the need for more sustainability grows,” he adds. “It’s the way of the future for road construction because it’s constantly evolving.”
Mr. Martin thanks AustStab, SPA, Hiway Stabilizers, his parents and partner, and others else who have had a part to play in his career leading to him winning this year’s prestigious Young Stabiliser of the Year Award.