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Steve Wade

Age: 48, southern area design manager, Stent, UK

Route to the job
I graduated in Civil Engineering at the University of Surrey in 1979 and later augmented this with a "day-release" MSc in Geotechnical Engineering. I spent the first twenty-one years of my career with Terresearch (later Taylor Woodrow Foundation Engineering) developing skills in site investigation, slope stability, bored piling, diaphragm walls and allied processes. A significant part of my formative years were spent on site and latterly estimating. Since the late eighties I have focussed my attention on design. After Taylor Woodrow withdrew from the market, I spent a brief spell with Westpile before joining Stent in 2001.

Typical day
In my teenage daughters' parlance, "geotechnical" plus "routine" equals an oxymoron. My immediate role is to co-ordinate the design output of our southern office at Basingstoke. In addition to supervising the work and development of the design team, I seek to ensure that our designs are sharp and meet the deadlines set by our estimating and operations teams. I am regularly involved with our clients, discussing and advising on future and current projects. Site visits allow me a breath of fresh air, the chance to see our designs executed, and to review what we have achieved. Development work for the FPS Technical Committee provides a welcome diversion.

Highs and lows
My highs include seeing our design team developing in ability and confidence, producing high quality designs to help win contracts, and making a positive contribution to each successful project completion. My lows centre on poor communications between project team members, poor information and unrealistic deadlines.

Ambitions
Corporately my aim is to provide the basis for consistent delivery of high quality geotechnical designs and to help to increase Stent's presence in the market. As an individual I am always looking to increase my geotechnical knowledge and abilities, to take on the challenges thrown at me, and to enjoy what I do.

Advice
Start with a sound technically based degree, add specialist training (preferably an MSc) and mix in a broad range of hands-on experience, particularly in ground investigation; allow to simmer/develop for a while. Then decide the role you really want, and take the decisions and actions needed to get there. On the way, be honest and straightforward, and appreciate the people you work with. They're all human like you!.