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Martin Svensson

Age: 30. Site manager/supervisor, Hercules Grundläggning AB, Sweden

This article is also available in: Swedish

Route to the job
I trained as a carpenter at high school but when I had finished my course there was a tremendous jobs shortage in the construction sector. So I worked in the forestry industry for a while till one day a friend who operated a lime cement column rig called me to say his company was short staffed. I applied for a job there and started as a rig operator. When he moved to Hercules I went with him and worked as a rig operator there for four years.
When Hercules set up its own soil improvement unit I applied for a transfer and was offered a job as supervisor there. At the time we were inundated with work so no one had the time to hold my hand in the job, as it were. Mostly I had to pick it up as I went along and learn from my mistakes. From my previous job, I knew how to operate a rig but I had no experience of customer contact, contract issues and such like. But there was always someone I could call for advice.

A typical day
I am based on the west coast but work wherever we have projects. If I am working in Stockholm my working week would be something like Gothenburg office on Monday, Stockholm Tuesday toThursday and then back in Gothenburg on Friday for more office work. A workday can see me travel out to a site or sites, meet whoever booked us, have a chat with the guys on site with the rig and collect discs and log books etc.
If there are any problems I sort these out with the customer or with the materials supplier or whoever. There is very little man management - the guys know exactly what they need to do. We often work on sites where the ground is in very poor condition which makes for long shifts. This means I must always make sure the action plan includes reserve areas where we can work to avoid downtime if the rig sinks into the ground for example and various procedures have to be done to the ground before we can continue. I also deal with equipment failures, organise spare parts etc. I also have to arrange for columns to be inspected and signed off.

Highs and lows
I enjoy being involved in a project from the word go. At the moment I don't do any calculations for jobs but I am going to learn that side too. But I do everything else from ordering the trailer to taking care of the wages and accounts on site, from start to finish on a job. I am very much an all rounder. One problem area can be man management, there can be as many ways of thinking as there are people. You just have to be firm but positive at the same time. Sometimes I am also snowed under with things to do. One thing I have learnt as a team leader is that you can never get through everything on a to do list, so you have to prioritise the most important.

I am going to move across to working with piling and other underpinning soon and learn all about that side of the Hercules business and what we can offer. I am looking forward to it! No one can master everything but I want to know how the various kinds of work should be done. In the even longer term I want to learn more about business, negotiating and be involved on the calculations side of jobs.

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