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David Wandless

Age: 38, Contracts Manager, Piling Solutions, UK

Route to the job
A year-out with Keller while studying for my degree at Lanchester Polytechnic gave me a passion for ground engineering and after graduating I returned to Keller in 1987. From this I gained an excellent grounding in a wide range of piling systems and this has lead to a variety of opportunities and contact with some of the industry's most respected engineers. Subsequent roles include managing large multi-million pound piling contracts with Soletanche-Fondaco and AMEC; regional manager at Westpile and then Expanded Piling; and a managing director at Van-Elle. I joined Piling Solutions two years ago, where I am able to put my broad experience to good use as a member of a small but highly skilled and professional team.

Typical day
Being part of a small team, my duties are extremely varied and demand a flexible approach. Every day brings a new challenge - be it from meeting clients and helping them overcome an apparently insurmountable problem to visiting our sites to check on progress and discuss practical issues with our site foreman. Staff training is often undertaken or arranged during these visits. This can result in travelling many miles in the course of a week, but modern information technology enables me to be home-based and this helps to keep my mileage down. When working from home, I am usually dealing with contract correspondence or producing estimates for new tenders.

Highs and lows
The satisfaction gained in using a combination of innovative design and state of the art equipment and techniques to successfully complete a project is always a high. This is enhanced when I learn that others have advised the client that their requirements were apparently "impossible" to meet. Lows come from the long hours that dedication demands and my frustration at the inflexibility of some clients' advisors and their lack of true engineering understanding.

Ambitions
To continue to contribute to the development of Piling Solutions as one of the leading specialist in solving foundation problems on difficult and restricted sites.

Advice
Enjoy what you are doing or change it. Understand and apply basic engineering principles, skills and techniques. Continue to use them but follow the contract.