Engineering a future

Peter Boulden

(BE Civil ’93)

Barbeques during orientation week, college informals and long celebrations after completing exams are some memorable moments from Peter Boulden’s days at University but his most resonant memory was entering the Great Hall – for the first time – when he received his degree in Civil Engineering back in 1993.

Choosing to study at Sydney was a natural choice for Boulden. “It seemed to be a more academically focused course,” he says. He agrees that the Uni’s prestige and good reputation was also an attraction for him.

Peter Boulden with Abby and Hugo

Now 39, Boulden is working for AECOM – a global provider of professional, technical and management support services – as an Associate Director (Rail).

Highlights of his career so far include contributing to large infrastructure projects “some of which I actually use,” he says. These include the Eastern Distributor and the North Sydney Station Upgrade in Sydney.

Prior to working for AECOM, Boulden and his wife Jennifer spent two years working in the United Kingdom. Boulden believes that working overseas benefited his career enormously. “It gave me exposure to a different working environment and culture and it seemed that the engineers in the UK were much more focused on the technical challenges of job. I learnt a lot from them.”

This year has been a big one for the Boulden family. Peter’s wife Jennifer gave birth to their third child a daughter, Elisabeth Rose, in February. They also have two other children: Hugo (5) and Abby (3).

Managing the demands of work and three young children can be problematic – Elisabeth had difficulty settling when she first came home from hospital, which meant many sleepless nights - but Boulden is upbeat about day-to-day life.

“With a very supportive and hard working wife we are able to attend to most daily challenges. It helps to have nearby family, friends and church to provide a safety valve of support and guidance. We had to call upon our extended family to help us with getting Hugo to and from school when Jen came home from hospital with Elisabeth and I went back to work,” he says.
A much-debated topic for the family has been the question of Hugo starting school this year. Sending boys to school “early” can be a divisive issue and Hugo is considered young because he only turned five in April this year. After much discussion with family and friends they decided to send him.

“The opinions of others were heard but not necessarily followed,” Boulden explains. “Principally it was our own intuition – Jen is a primary teacher and I went to school at 4½ also. The recommendation from his preschool teachers was that he would not gain much from another year at preschool. Hugo has a very logical, precise and process-driven thinking pattern and he was already reading and writing.” Boulden is hopeful that Hugo will steadily build confidence to be able to read and write and to “form friendships that he can carry through to year 6.”

When asked about the possibility of part-time work in order to be more involved with the operational demands of running the family, Boulden says it is something he has not considered.
“It would be impossible to work part-time in the job that I have. I need to be available to my clients from my office during the day and after hours if necessary,” he explains. “The possibility of Jen returning to work in the short-term is not likely but in the medium to long term she will go back to teaching – probably part-time. The hours are generally family-friendly and it means she’s home in the school holidays.”

Boulden makes exercise a priority. He’s a member of a local cricket club and he’s regularly out in the backyard kicking a soccer ball around with Hugo. “While life is hectic,” he smiles, “we find that having a regular routine helps to stay sane and maximises family time – the most precious commodity.”