From studying civil engineering to testing brand-new vehicle occupancy equipment, Eric Coraggio’s internships at Transurban took him from theory into practice. And from wide-eyed student to full-time employee, innovating smarter road technology and infrastructure.

Honestly? When I tell people I work for a toll road company, they roll their eyes. But when I tell them about the way Transurban pushes industry-leading technology and safety in infrastructure, and on the roadside, most people get excited.

Before I started at Transurban, I wasn’t interested in transportation. I wanted to work in environment engineering, planting trees and putting in solar panels. But I love it here. I love working in innovation, and I’ve realized I can still help the earth. For example, one of the things we reward and encourage on our roads is carpooling. So if you’re riding with more than three people, you can drive for free on our Express Lanes.

One of the highlight projects I’ve worked on in the Innovation team was making sure that people claiming the discount were actually driving a high-occupancy vehicle (HOV). When people take advantage of the system, it makes the road more expensive to run, and more congested. So to be able to keep rewarding carpooling, we had to improve how we monitored HOV behaviour.

We looked at a lot of different methodologies, and initially approached the problem from the engineering side. What I was able to bring was operations knowledge I gained on the roadside on one of my internships. That ability to think a little differently – the different experience and background I had – allowed me to connect to the idea that we eventually implemented. What’s really cool is that we’re the first people in the world to have a targeted program for monitoring HOV in this way.

In this space, there’s so much exciting thinking happening and it’s cool to be a part of it.

I never know what’s coming next. Will I get a lead on a start-up? Or a cool new program? Will we implement a world-first idea? I’ve already been involved in all of those things – and I’ve only been here two or so years.

The work we do is definitely fast paced. I studied civil engineering, so I have friends who work in similar roles at other companies. They’re blown away when I tell them what we accomplish in one year at Transurban. They all ask the same thing: “How?”

That’s where our culture sets us apart. We set ourselves heavy deadlines and we meet them; by being flexible, and by committing. For example, if I have a lot to do I’ll be more than willing to work the hours to get the job done. But to strike the balance, I work from home or make sure to take a break – and that’s understood.

Everyone here is really supportive, and there’s openness to talk to people at all levels from different teams and backgrounds. People here are happy to share and pass on knowledge – and not just about successes. We’re open around failures and challenges too, so everyone learns from a pitfall. People don’t want to make the same mistakes; we want to do the right thing and work with the best of the best.