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John Ambler

Age: 46, piling construction supervisor, Cementation Foundations Skanska

Route to the job
I started with Cementation as a tea boy on a contract at Middlesborough and it was totally different to anything I had done before. But I soon got in to the swing of it, working on various sites up and down the country gaining experience as I went. Since then I have managed to make my way through the ranks to construction supervisor. My route through Cementation has been a great learning curve and there is still a lot to learn! I recently completed my NVQ Level 3, which has given me my first formal certificate in piling management.

Typical day
My day starts with a strong cup of coffee, then onto site to brief the guys on the day's operations. I return to the office to check the mail and liaise with the client. It's then a matter of agreeing programmes, making sure they are achievable and discussing safety and quality issues. Running a site requires a lot of planning and you have to be on top of everything, making sure materials are ordered, come in on time and are really what you ordered. I sometimes take the role of an agony aunt to some of the guys - we all occasionally need an ear to bend!

Highs and lows
One of the biggest highs for me is finishing a contract on time and within budget - smiles all around and a boost for all. Possibly the biggest high for me was when I was made foreman eight years ago. I was the most surprised person in the room as I thought I was called in for a contract meeting! A low for me is the "bad contract" where much effort is put in but you struggle to see the rewards.

Ambitions
To be promoted to grade one construction supervisor. I have developed my skills in several techniques and would like the opportunity to take on major contract work. I've recently expressed an interest in becoming an area resource manager, I like the challenge of both plant and labour management.

Advice
It really helps if you have a very understanding partner - I do! Take the opportunities that are always available in piling; it leads to new experiences and gives you a lot of job satisfaction.