Boys with toysDoug Conway
Meet the man behind the Renewal Project
“It’s the thing I do best – destroy things and rebuild them”
Scott Swann jocularly sees himself, in professional terms, as a “big kid” playing with toy Lego blocks.
Which must make Trinity’s Summer Hill campus one of the biggest and most exciting sandpits he has played in.
As Trinity’s Director of Major Projects, the English-born Aussie is overseeing the Renewal Project, the biggest development in Trinity’s 109-year history.
It’s not necessarily the most complex venture he has been involved in – compared with, say, an English hospital rebuild; or the longest – he came to Trinity after overseeing a 10-year refurbishment at Kincoppal girls’ school at Rose Bay.
But it’s definitely the most intense, given that Trinity’s project is three times the size of Kincoppal’s, compressed into less than half the time.
After starting at Trinity in January this year, less than three months before the first sod was turned, he had to hit the ground running.
“It was a baptism of fire, but I’m loving it,” he said. “Now I’m only wearing one hat, instead of three at Kincoppal, where I managed construction, facilities and internal events.
“I’m focusing on one thing, and it’s the thing I do best – destroy things and rebuild them.
“For me it’s boys and toys. I’m like a big child with Lego blocks.
“You get a crane and move this from here to there.
“Everything must be in sequence, and must link in with everything else, as you can tell by my whiteboard.
“You have to plan everything in detail, which fortunately is one of my strong points. You must look ahead at all the implications – what do we need to do?”
With so many moving parts to control, it seems inevitable there’s the odd night when he’s awake at 3am.
“Some nights I am. I’m thinking, ‘I have to do this, and I have to do that’. So I write it all down, have a cup of tea and go back to bed. You get nights like that, but it’s all good.
“You can’t help it, even if you’re bone tired, when your mind is in overdrive.”
He says Head Master Tim Bowden, Deputy Head Craig Sandwell and Bursar Campbell Dungan are all “very knowledgeable about the project, and it’s great to bounce ideas off them”.
Born in Manchester, Mr Swann started out as a painter and decorator before studying construction management at Anglia University in Essex, then doing a Masters degree in heritage refurbishment at University College London.
At the same time he was working for a construction company, rising from foreman to site manager.
His next step was to undertake major builds in the UK with Costains Engineering.
In 2003 he and his wife Collette made the big move to build a new life in Australia, at that stage with three young children in a family that has since expanded to four.
Jordan, now 24, works in musical theatre; Darcey, 22, is studying marine biology at James Cook University; Jacob, 18, is having a gap year after finishing at Waverley College; the youngest, Danae, 14, is the only family member born in Australia, though all are now Australian citizens.
Mr Swann’s first job in Australia was working on the Chief Secretary’s building in Sydney for Hansen Yuncken, the company building Trinity’s Renewal Project.
He spent five years on commercial and residential fit-outs with Walton Constructions before setting up on his own as a consultant and eventually taking on the long-term Kincoppal venture.
“At Trinity the ethos of the job doesn’t change, and I’m employing the same principles; it’s just bigger,” he said.
“We are doing it in bite-size chunks and making everything fit into timelines in order to ease the operational impact on the School.”
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