Route to the job
I graduated in civil engineering at Newcastle University in 1996 having spent the last three months of the course specialising in geotechnical engineering. My first job was in Yorkshire working as a junior site engineer for JN Bentley (Keighley) on the £16M Moor Monckton to Elvington pipeline near York. Eager to pursue an approved training course for the ICE, I joined Taylor Woodrow in 1997 as a site engineer working on reinforced concrete structures and pipelines. In 1999 I was promoted to section engineer as part of Yorkshire Water's "coast care" scheme at Staithes and Runswick Bay. Sensing it was time for a change, I decided to seek design experience, which led me to specialist geotechnical contractors Van Elle. I worked as an estimator for piling and specialist civils works and learned many aspects of geotechnical design. In May 2003 I was offered the position with May Gurney, which was too good to miss, so here I am!
I work in a satellite office with our marketing assistant in Wakefield. And although no two days are the same, it's easier to describe a typical week. On Monday you'll probably find me getting to the office early to pick up my e-mails and check the post. On the business development side I check the enquiries and pick out any unusual or interesting ones which will need up front input to make them viable for our estimating team in Norwich. On Tuesdays I could be traveling to see some of the new jobs or visiting ongoing sites to check progress or solve problems. Once a month I travel to Norwich to attend management meetings to discuss business development and it is a good chance to get our heads together on the " more interesting" jobs. Thursdays could well be spent out on the road again as all those jobs about to start need to be discussed at pre contract meetings to make sure everything is agreed and in place, not to mention meeting new clients for lunch, or taking them for a round of golf. I try to get back into the office on Fridays to catch up with my e-mails and record all those meeting minutes which can really mount up if your not careful. As you can see, an affinity with driving is a distinct advantage!
Highs and lows
Without doubt the biggest high was getting married in May 2003 (the same month I started with May Gurney). But work-wise, joining May Gurney has been a highlight, and I took great satisfaction from an interesting job in Bath while at Van Elle. Lows come from being unsuccessful on a big job that you have put everything into. On the Staithes contract we were constantly defeated by the elements and saw a storm demolish our one-week-old sea defence.
My biggest ambition is to have a family, then after that to pass my CPR at the ICE in October this year. I've always tried to steer my own career towards this goal. At May Gurney I want to secure a massive contract that really shakes up the boys down South. As a member of the ICE, I want to promote civil engineering to kids and encourage people to get involved well before I ever did. Perhaps one day I will be a director at May Gurney and head up my own division in a new market.
Get involved early and keep your eyes wide open, because in construction there's absolutely no substitute for experience. I think it's best to do vocational studies as soon as you can; so going to university isn't the be all and end all. The sense of achievement and fun is genuinely the best you'll find, but be prepared for hard work and disappointments along the way.