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  • Writer's pictureNicola Smart

Interview with volunteer Bill Ryan

Updated: Apr 5

This week we find out more about Bill Ryan, Vice President of the Partner Housing Board. Bill has a wealth varied career experience he brings to Partner Housing, making him an invaluable volunteer. His fascinating work history proves just how varied a person's skills and experiences can become. Find out more below.

How did you become involved with PHA?

I met Rod while representing Autoclaved Aerated Concrete on the Masonry Code Committee. I talked him into joining me on the ACSE Board (Association of Consulting Structural Engineers). In return he suggested I should help on the PHAB Board. I have always been happy to volunteer. Serving on the Boards of PHAB, Eventide Homes, ACRS (Australian Certification of Reinforcing and Structural Steel), and Gideons and Jingara Ski Lodge.

What is the most fulfilling aspect of the work?

Helping communities in remote areas to have safe housing and thewater supply we all take for granted. We are so fortunate in our large cities of Australia that we tend to ignore the people in remote areas of Australia and the Pacific Nations.

Are there any challenges you've found?

Travelling to the Western Province islands of the Solomons is difficult for for "old" people. We need to recruit more young Engineers.

What does the future hold for you?

Retirement from all these Boards is becoming a reality as Joy and I have purchased a new house in Port Macquarie. We will move in the next couple of months. So Zoom meetings only!

What are you excited about in the work being done with PHA?

I can see younger people stepping up to the mark. There is still so much we can do to help. Even with COVID we have kept moving forward.

Bill's work history

After High School (1965) I worked at the Metropolitan Water, Sewerage & Drainage Board in Design Branch while attending UNSW Civil Engineering. I joined the Army Reserve at UNSWR. I continued in the reserve as an

Engineering Officer at 5 Engineering Group, Haberfield. Bonded to "the Board", I continued to study for a Masters Degree. My specialties were pre-stressed concrete and water engineering.

After a short time building sewers I concentrated on concrete design, steel design and pipeline design until becoming the Hydrologist for headworks. When my pet project, the dam at Welcome Reef was shelved I decided to leave to the Board in 1976.

I started my own consultancy, SRIV Engineering Pty Ltd, specialising in the design of swimming pools and houses but was offered a job at Rankine and Hill as a Water Engineer. I completed design and modelling for floods in the Lachlan River Valley and for the estuaries near Gladstone.

After a trip to the USA to look at the use of computers in Engineering, I left R&H to work for Laurie Montgomery and Petit as their project manager for the design of Sewerage Treatment works at Tamworth, Moree and Inverell.

During this time I also became involved in running a ski lodge in Jindabyne. We called ourselves Jingara Lodge Ltd. After 30 years Joy and I are still on the committee running the two buildings in Bogong St.

In 1981, one of the ski lodge committee members put my name in for a job in CSR Coal Division as an infrastructure engineer. My job was to supervise consultants designing new towns for coal and oil shale projects in Victoria

and Queensland. When these projects folded I transferred to personnel, (now called HR), where I was involved in the classification of employees and making sure they were paid enough to keep them happy. For a short time I was the foreign exchange manager for CSR Coal Division. I was also part of the team which sold off some of CSR's coal mines to Shell and Esso. Moving to CSR Corporate Personnel, I became a trainer. I would take a group of managers or supervisors away for a week to some excellent hotels where we would play games to give them better insights into their own strengths and weaknesses and to give them skills to better manage their people.

I was also the Chairman of the Australian Employee Opinion Survey Group during this time.

While designing a new management game using computers I interviewed the new marketing manager of CSR Hebel to gain some information for the game's simulations. Within a week I was the new Technical Manager of

CSR Hebel. Starting a new manufacturing company from scratch was No.1. While working at CSR I represented Hebel blocks on the Masonry Standard Committee. I continued this until I retired.

After 5 years with Hebel, I left CSR in 1992 to help start Krusscrete, another light weight material, as the General Manager. Leaving Krusscrete after a year, I continued as a Structural and Water Consultant for the next 22 years using my company SRIV Engineering. As well as housing, I specialised in inspecting high rise formwork and scaffolding mainly in the city. Pages Event Structures used my services to design and certify temporary structures such as marquees, walkways and stages. Most of the temporary structures used for the Sydney Olympics were Pages structures certified by me.

CSR Hebel also engaged my services to produce an Australian Standard for Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete which was introduced in 2015. I represented ASCE on the formwork code committee as well as serving on the

Board of ASCE for a number of years.

Retirement has allowed me to travel. I have skied in Canada, USA and Japan. As a volunteer in Partner Housing Australasia, I have travelled to the Solomon Islands to develop water supply systems. I continue to represent Consult Australia on the Board of ACRS - Australian Certification Authority for Reinforcing and Structural Steels.

My latest interest is to restart the Welcome Reef project - the dam on the

upper Shoalhaven River which Sydney desperately needs. (but doesn't know it).

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