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Services

Technical services and consulting solutions for clients in the property, energy, transport, water, resources, defence and government sectors.

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Technical services and consulting solutions for clients in the property, energy, transport, water, resources, defence and government sectors.

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Advisory and management consulting

Advisory and management consulting services for businesses and projects, including economics, due diligence, transaction advisory, ESG and more.

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Scientific analysis services for AgroScience, food safety, workplace exposure, environmental metrics and contaminants of concern in Europe and the UK.

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Specialist training services, programs and accreditation for health, safety and risk, project management, and energy sector capability development.

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World-leading technical and consulting solutions for clients in the property, energy, transport, resources, water, defence and government sectors.

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We define, design and manage projects that create shared value to a complex, urbanising and resource-scarce world.

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Brilliant minds finding solutions to complex problems, made easy to understand. Making complex easy.

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Kate Eskdale: bringing communities along for the journey

Kate Eskdale, National Lead - Communications and Engagement

From door-knocking residents impacted by road upgrades in suburban Melbourne to shaping community engagement on mega rail initiatives, it would be hard to find a consultant as passionate about connecting people with projects as RPS’ National Lead – Communications and Engagement, Kate Eskdale.

Q Tell us about your journey into infrastructure communications and engagement – how did it start for you?

I studied a Bachelor of Management at university which was actually quite a broad degree. I majored in marketing and human resources, and originally I wanted to get into HR.

I ended up landing a graduate job at VicRoads which gave me fabulous and diverse experience across a range of different business functions. I did some quality auditing, worked in finance, then HR…but it was my rotation through the major projects team that sparked my passion for infrastructure delivery.

I loved that everybody was working together towards the same goals and seeing big projects come to life. I got the opportunity to get involved in community and stakeholder engagement at VicRoads, and that’s where my focus has been ever since.

Meet Kate

Role at RPS

I'm the National Lead for Communications and Engagement.

Specialising in

Project communications and engagement for big infrastructure projects and other strategic investments, with a particular focus on transport and energy projects. 

Q What were some of your first engagement experiences? What made you love it?

Door knocking! There was a road project where acoustic noise walls needed to be built through a suburban area, and I had to go along with the building inspector to visit houses along the route and talk to residents about the fact they were going to have large walls built along their back fence.

Sometimes the conversations were tough, but I really enjoyed it! I ended up getting involved in the community reference group and was able to go out, meet people and really understand what the issues were. I got to help the project team understand key issues and risks, and know how the community really felt about what we were doing.

Q Eventually you made the transition into consulting. How did that happen?

After VicRoads I went to work at the Victorian Department of Transport looking after major projects. When I think back, the projects we were working on now seem pretty small – at least in comparison to the scale of mega projects happening all over the country now! They were critical projects (like building new stations) that helped lay the groundwork for the engagement approaches that are used today.   

I worked my way up at the Department and eventually ended up in the Communications Director role. It was a great job with lots of exciting elements, but I ended up missing project work. That’s what led me to make the move to the private sector and join RPS. That was nine years ago!

Q You obviously took well to consulting! What kinds of projects have you worked on since joining RPS?

Lots of rail infrastructure initiatives! One of the biggest pieces of work – in terms of the time and scale of involvement - has been my role as Engagement Director on the Aurecon Jacobs Mott MacDonald (AJM) Joint Venture. The JV provides technical advisory for Rail Projects Victoria and Victoria’s Suburban Rail Loop project.

I've also had the opportunity to work on Melbourne’s Metro Tunnel, a whole lot of regional rail projects, Melbourne Airport Rail…the list goes on.

Kate Eskdale, RPS National Lead, Communications & Engagement, Western Australia

Q What does your current role as National Lead for Communications and Engagement involve?

I still love my client work, but my role is also about connecting the communications and engagement work we are doing across different states and territories. I make sure we are presenting the best of our expertise and lessons learned no matter what area of the country we are working in.

If we're doing something really creative on a project in New South Wales, it’s about taking that expertise and making sure we are offering it to clients in Western Australia, Victoria, or wherever else our clients are operating.

RPS has one of the largest infrastructure engagement offerings in Australia and clients are coming to us for more than just ‘boots on the ground’ delivery support. They're looking to us for bespoke strategy and innovation. Another big part of my role is working with other National Leads in our business to bring our services together in new ways.

For example, how can we bring communications and engagement together with data analyticseconomics or social advisory solutions? It’s bringing people and skills together in a way that works for our clients and projects, and that benefits communities.

Q What community engagement challenges is your team helping clients solve in 2023?

There’s a lot of work going on in the renewable energy space at the moment, so supporting clients to navigate through the early phases of project investigation, feasibility and approvals is a huge focus.

The growth in offshore wind projects and related grid connections in particular is throwing up some interesting challenges to work through.

While communities are largely supportive of renewables, “engagement fatigue” is a real risk. I think that’s one of the biggest challenges we’re helping clients work through at the moment – managing cumulative impacts and building social licence when there are lots of projects happening in the same areas at once.

Q What skills do you need to be a great communications and engagement consultant?

For me, it’s about having a really good risk radar. At the end of the day we are helping clients to manage risk and gain social permission to progress projects, so you need to be able to pick up on problems early, and join the dots between different issues and perspectives. This can create real opportunities for communities and stakeholders to be involved in shaping projects.

Great engagement consultants are good listeners. They naturally empathise and know how to relate to a wide range of people. It’s all well and good to go out with a set of key messages, but if you’re not listening to people and understanding their perspective, you’ll struggle to get those messages across.

Being successful in engagement is listening as much as talking!

Desert meets the sea - an aerial view of ocean and desert sand dune beach, Broome Western Australia