Route to the job
My first degree was in earth sciences at Cardiff University, followed by a PhD at Liverpool University. My doctorate was oriented towards structural/geochemistry, with the study of ductile and brittle deformation mechanisms within 400 million-year-old fault zones. During my postgraduate study, I worked part-time for Bauer Foundations in its design department. It soon became apparent that my PhD was applicable to the deformation and behaviour of soils. Within two years of joining Bauer I had progressed to contracts engineer and was responsible for one of the largest stone column contracts carried out in the UK for Derby Southern Bypass. In 1996 I joined Pennine Vibropiling as technical manager and was recently promoted to technical director.
There is no typical day and planning the week can be nearly impossible. My main role is to ensure the design engineers provide good sound advice and the contracts engineers ensure the work is professionally and correctly carried out on site. The UK operation also provides the design and practical support for our overseas subsidiaries. Overseas work is highly varied, often involving seismic design. Quite often we are required to come up with novel solutions for working in hostile environments, such as installing stone columns at the bottom of the North Sea. As a senior member of the company I also have a big involvement in ensuring that our technical department is fully compliant with our quality assurance, health & safety and environmental systems.
Highs and lows
One of the most satisfying aspects of the job is when we are able to provide a client with a novel design solution, which results in cost savings. Worldwide travel is an exciting part of the job and is synonymous with the growth of the Pennine Group. The lows are being away from my family.
To become one of the leading experts in the design and installation of ground improvement techniques using vibratory technology and to help Pennine continue to grow worldwide.
Don't rest on your laurels, always seek opportunities to develop your knowledge and experience. The greater your ability, the more rewarding you will find your job.