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Melvin England

Wesley Lees

Age: 44, training and safety manager, Stent Foundations, UK

Route to the job
I came to geotechnical engineering through an interest in geology as a youngster. I graduated from Portsmouth Polytechnic and spent my early career in specialist subcontracting for Taylor Woodrow and Costain, both at home and abroad. About 10 years ago I took my career in a different direction and became involved in improving the quality of Stent's work including environmental and safety management. That was only possible through improvements in training which has meant I've had to do a lot of additional study, including gaining my NEBOSH Diploma and Membership of IOSH. I've still kept up my membership of the ICE and I'm currently doing an NVQ 4 in Training and Development.

Typical day
The thing I like about the job is that days are different, including a degree of traveling, to our area offices around the UK. I get involved in all aspect of our business including presentations to clients, site work, training delivery, developing procedures and looking after our external accreditation

Highs and lows
Two career highs include when Stent won the Construction News Quality in Construction, Training Award (as a specialist contractor this was particularly gratifying) and when Stent achieved accreditation to OHSAS 18001, for its safety management system (which was a first in the UK piling industry). I get my lows when people I know get injured at work, especially if the cause was preventable, and that means most of them.

For Stent, I want the company to be known as the safest piling contractor producing the best quality of workmanship. For me personally, I'd like to grow my career as the company develops.

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!.