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Melissa Lupton - Works Supervisor, Construction of Parks and Gardens, Shire of Chittering

Melissa Lupton
'I started here as the works supervisor for the construction of parks and gardens about five months ago.'

Melissa, 25, was featured in Career FAQs Landscaping & Horticulture during her fourth and final year of a horticulture apprenticeship at the City of Gosnells in Western Australia.

Since then, Melissa worked in a nursery for six months before going out to the country and working in the outdoorsy role of works/maintenance supervisor.

She has recently taken up a job at the Shire of Chittering where a whole new world of horticulture has opened up to her.

What are you doing in your current job?

I started here as the works supervisor for the construction of parks and gardens about five months ago. It's way more of an office job than what I have done previously. I go out and see the guys on site to see that everything is going to plan, but I spend more time in the office doing purchase orders, organising contractors and all that sort of thing.

What sort of work are you overseeing?

Maintenance grading, potholes and signage in the town, and all the parks and ovals. We also have a few units that we look over in the way of lawns and gardens. We also do cemetery work.

What did you learn during your apprenticeship?

Everything from turf, to parks and gardens, to mechanics. It was good because we got to change crews every few months and try our hand at everything they had to offer. I got a very broad range of experience doing that. There weren't many staff at Coolgardie, so you had to be on the ball with everything.

Once you finish an apprenticeship or traineeship what are the career opportunities like?

The horticulture industry is pretty broad in terms of the number of different jobs you could be doing. Craig, the apprentice who appeared in the Career FAQs book with me, is still working at the City of Gosnells and has been offered to do the landscape design work. That's quite a big opportunity because a job like that usually doesn't go to someone so young. Because of a shortage of experienced people in horticulture at the moment, you can move into different areas quicker then ever before.

Are there jobs available in both the city and country?

Yes. Usually the country offers a bit more incentive and a bit more money in order to get the qualified people out there. The promotion opportunities are better in the country and I think that's what helped me get to where I am now.

What do you like most about your job?

Seeing a job get finished and being able to create things. Coolgardie was great because I actually got to use my horticulture and design garden beds, parks and things like that. I prefer the hands-on work to what I do now, but it's also good to see another side of the industry and get a bit more professional in what I'm doing.

Are there any negative points?

It's hard work. In one way, I'm glad I don't do as much work outside now as I did in my previous job, because it can be quite a strain on your body and you do get quite tired. I think the only other thing is that when you are an apprentice, you get low pay but I'm sitting pretty good now so that kind of makes up for it. Also I enjoyed what I was doing so it wasn't really a problem.

In your first Career FAQs interview, you said there weren't many women in the career. Is that changing?

I think it is a little bit. You see a lot more women now, and you see a lot of women starting their own landscaping businesses so that's really positive. When I first started with Coolgardie they were quite set in their ways and I think they found it hard to accept that a female was coming in as their boss. However, after about four months that settled down a bit.

What sort of person suits the career?

Someone who is very motivated, can think for themselves, take initiative, and think outside the square a little bit. You are always trying to look for different ways to design or make the job easier. They also have to be prepared to work hard because it can be very demanding.

Where do you see yourself going from here?

I think I'll be in this job for a long time because there are a lot of different things I still have to learn. Everything is new to me here because the job is very different from my last one.

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