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David Hard

Age: 32, Senior Design Engineer, Bachy Soletanche, UK

Route to the job
I've always had a strong desire to work abroad and while studying civil engineering at Surrey University, I worked on my French in my spare time and won a language scholarship. This resulted in working in the design office of Soletanche in Paris for my industrial placement year. Upon graduating I joined the UK branch of the same company. I spent the next 5 years in the Far East working as a designer and on site before returning to the UK. I'm now a senior design engineer based in the North West of England but work takes me all over the country.

Typical day
If in the office, the day is spent on tender and contract designs, be it for a private individual building a single house or a million pound development in the heart of London. I will also be supervising and advising the younger graduate engineers and checking their work. Normally I have at least one major live project (such as CTRL) which will take up some of my time either with calculations or advice over the phone. Alternatively I might be out providing support to either a live site or to our commercial and construction teams in meetings with clients or consultants.

Highs and lows
My biggest professional high was walking through the completed Hong Kong Central Station as a passenger and matching the gleaming structure around me to the unfinished hole in the ground I had last seen a couple of years previously when I ran the onsite design team. Lows include losing work because the client just picks the lowest price and doesn't look at what it's hiding.

Professionally I want to be as enthusiastic about my job in ten years time as I was when I started ten years ago. Personally, I've set a target to drive round the coast of Australia.

Learn a foreign language, it opens up more opportunities. Take overseas work if it's offered, the experience will be invaluable. Get a taste for both contracting and consulting before making any long term decisions.