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Interview with
Shaun McKay
Environmental Consultant


Shaun McKay, an Environmental Consultant has been kicking some goals in the 11 months since joining the site assessment and remediation team in Newcastle. 

Shaun has a Bachelor of Environmental Science from the University of Newcastle and acknowledges the exciting opportunity Coffey has given him to develop professionally after a hiatus from consulting.

What inspired you to get into that field of study?

My prerequisite was a career that would enable me to work outdoors and use my brain. I was always interested and active in the outdoors, from looking at things under a magnifying glass as a kid to searching for birds in the bush as an adult, which I still do!  It was a natural progression to pursue a career in environmental science and I was lucky to walk into my first position in contaminated land management after my brother left his job to work in Canada. I asked his boss if I could replace him and she said, “better the devil you know!”

Coffey are a leader in contaminated site assessment and remediation and offer me the opportunity to look at things under a magnifying glass on many different levels.

Tell us about the challenges and rewards you face in your role?

I find it rewarding to interpret field data and articulate it into scientific reports.  I enjoy the challenge of understanding a problem then finding and applying a solution that provides our client with an outcome that saves them time and money. 

I enjoy the challenge of understanding a problem then finding and applying a solution that provides our client with an outcome that saves them time and money. 

What originally attracted you to Coffey?

Coffey offered me the challenge of returning to consulting after an extended period of remediation contract work. I was keen to grow professionally by getting my head back into the nitty gritty of consulting. The company I worked for contracted to Coffey on several projects where I learnt about groundwater remediation systems on service station sites that were impacted by hydrocarbons. Coffey always had outside-the-box ideas on how to construct the remediation systems that I was working on to make them more efficient and cost-effective. I knew that by joining Coffey I could tap into this knowledge and learn more than at any other consultancy.

Tell us about some of the projects you've worked on at Coffey that have been most inspirational to you.

 I’ve already worked on some interesting projects during my short time with Coffey. Some of these include: 

  1. A contamination assessment of an operational boat maintenance slipway to investigate the historical use of anti-fouling paints and their impacts on soil, water and sediments.

  2. An investigation into the presence of PFAS contamination at an industrial chrome plating facility.

  3. Conducting contamination assessments at a former coal mining facility that is currently being rehabilitated. 

Each project represents new and inspiring challenges including re-acquainting myself with updated legislation and the appropriate application for each site scenario, managing historical and emerging contaminants and assisting with reporting of contamination to the regulator.

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself starting out in your career?

It’s a great idea to get a wide range of experience working on various types of sites early in your career.

I recommend doing a stint with a remediation contractor as it allows you to appreciate how a remediation site operates and how its systems function.  You will gain confidence in making critical decisions when planning and executing remediation works and it will provide an excellent basis for understanding different types of contamination.