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Nick Wharmby

Age: 39, Chief Engineer, Bachy Soletanche, UK

Route to the job
I did a civil engineering degree at Kingston Polytechnic. My interest in geotechnics was ignited during my industrial training year - it was a difficult project and I was convinced there had to be a better way. After graduation I spent four years with Cementation and then AMEC. The operational, design and estimating experience gained working for these specialist geotechnical contractors coupled with a part-time MSc in Geotechnology and getting chartered through ICE facilitated a rewarding three years in SE Asia. I joined Bachy Soletanche in 1998 in the design service; and I'm now Chief Engineer.

Typical day
I do not have a typical day, but my remit covers the following kinds of activities: reviewing project data to develop solutions or understanding a problem that has arisen; checking and challenging designs that others have prepared; writing computer programs; liaising with plant and operations staff to develop new or improved systems; putting together and giving presentations to clients; analyzing the design service performance; planning for the future workload trends; attending company management meetings or visiting site to see first hand what we get right or wrong. Other days I attend FPS Technical Committee meetings, review papers for ICE proceeding or write technical papers.

Highs and lows
The buzz for me comes from coming up with an innovative solution to a problem that saves money to generate a win-win situation. I also find seeing 'good guys' progress feeds my enthusiasm. Missing an opportunity represents a major low, closely followed by needing to do something that experience and instinct tells you is not the way forward.

In both life and work, my ambition is to make as many opportunities as possible, while maintaining a balance between work and family life. I want to run one more marathon, climb more mountains and especially climb Tryfan on my 65th birthday.

Get a good degree, work in industry before you do an MSc and get chartered. Ask how and why; do not be accepting of everything.