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Kai Jonasson

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Duncan Moore

Age: 42, project manager, Zschokke Locher, Switzerland

Route to the job
Upon completing my degree in geological engineering at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, I continued my studies with a masters in mining. My first job experience found me in Zurich, Switzerland, working for a geotechnical office doing soil and rock mechanics. I moved to a larger engineering office four years later and began designing large excavations and deep foundations. A short while later I became head of the foundation engineering department. In 1999 I went to work for Zschokke Locher AG, a foundation engineering contractor. I now have the best of both worlds: I can do design work and also manage projects.

Typical day
No two days are the same. More than likely I am running a number of projects at the same time, which makes time-management of utmost importance. Usually the different sites are visited once a day to check on performance, answer questions, attend meetings and to solve the invariable problems that crop up. A lot of my time is spent finding logical solutions to often very illogical problems. But that is what makes it all worthwhile. You are presented with a problem in the morning and a solution has to be found by that afternoon.

Highs and lows
The workload and high stress level means it is not always easy to balance work and family life. At the beginning there is much to learn and little time, so you have to learn fast. With time you develop a routine, but never think work will become routine. Everyday presents something new. My high point: a project is successfully finished.

My ambitions in the future: try out new ideas, manage large complicated projects and to learn French. To take time to explain what we do to the younger generation, so that they may consider a vocation as an engineer in this fascinating field of foundation engineering.

Go to university and get an engineering degree, then gain some work experience before doing an MBA. Whether managing a project or working as an engineer in an office, the business side of foundation engineering is just as important as the engineering.