From Royal Engineers Site Engineer on the M3 Smart Motorway project

Royal Engineers Search Team member and qualified carpenter Coldric John moved from searching for explosives in Northern Ireland to managing site systems for Balfour Beatty.

‘The construction industry is well suited to most service leavers as it’s close to the Forces organisational structure. Plus it demands hard work, and the army produces people who are used to high pressure and high demands,’ says Coldric John, former Royal Engineers Sapper.

Coldric spent seven years with the Army, from 2007-2014, and worked alongside the Northern Ireland police searching homes, buildings, ferries and farmland for any form of explosives. As a qualified carpenter, he also worked with local communities in Maidstone and Scotland to build bridges and barns – and worked on the construction of monuments for fallen soldiers.

Coldric found his job as site engineer with Balfour Beatty Major Projects Highways through an online search: ‘The CTP team in Northern Ireland were helpful with mock interviews and CV preparation, although I would have liked to have seen more practical, course-based help from the Army.

‘My day now typically starts with preparing that day’s schedule and checking it with my line manager to analyse our priorities. It’s my responsibility to ensure all gangs have necessary permits. I visit each gang to check plant and man power, health and safety standards and compliance with safety systems.’

Initially Coldric found the slower pace of civilian working life – and lower standards of discipline  – difficult to adjust to but found his military skills suit construction: ‘Army life has given me the ability to take in information and brief others in a clear way, despite language barriers, work hard to get the job done as safely as possible, and give 100% always. Safety, teamwork and diversity are the three words I’d use to describe a career in construction.’

Coldric John
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