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Dave Darkins

Age: 30, estimator, May Gurney Geotechnical, UK

Route to the job
I got involved in construction through an HNC in Civil Engineering taken at Norwich City College on day release. After a number of years as a technical officer within the railway industry, I applied for the estimating post at May Gurney three years ago. Perhaps because I was from outside the foundation sector, the recruitment process was quite involved. First I attended an interview, which lasted hours and involved meeting numerous members of staff. I then received an offer to visit May Gurney to gain a brief insight to the every day life of an estimator. This was a great reversal of roles as it provided me with an opportunity to "interview" the company and assess my suitability for the job.

Typical day
I usually arrive at the office at 8.00am and have a much-needed cup of coffee before prioritizing my workload for the day. My everyday responsibilities include designing pile foundations, pricing projects, chasing tenders and reviewing others work. It seems that I am constantly reprioritizing my workload as situations constantly alter. I am regularly designing and pricing up to twenty tenders at once and sometimes wonder if I will cope - but I always seem to manage. The feeling of winning a large project and beating our competitors gives a sense of pride and makes the strict deadlines worthwhile. Projects range from small house extensions to large shopping complexes worth millions of pounds.

Highs and lows
Highs are winning large complex tenders that make a decent profit margin. Lows are losing tenders especially when a lot of time and effort has been put in, plus the repetitiveness of tenders and seemingly impossible deadlines

Ambitions
I'm currently a technician member of the Institution of Civil Engineers (TMICE) and my aim is to complete my training objectives and pass the Institution of Civil Engineers Incorporated Review, which will make me an associate member. Associate members typically have a high level of working experience and knowledge of a particular field, backed by a general understanding of engineering principles and techniques. Effective overall performance often calls for commercial awareness and acumen, backed by organisational and communication skills. I've initiated my professional training under my own steam, but May Gurney supports me by signing off my core objectives and providing advice when requested.

Advice
Be patient and persevere and remember, an estimator's day can occasionally be very repetitive but the rewards are worthwhile.