From Army Engineer to Project Manager

After 22 years in the Royal Engineers David signed up to take part in a placement with Lendlease, working as a Project Manager on the Kingsgate site.

How did you find the process?

The procedure was very simple; I applied at the Construction and the Built Environment Lendlease Industry Awareness Event held at RRC Northolt on 23rd June 2014. A simple form was completed and then I was contacted a few days later for an electronic copy of my CV. They were flexible about arranging placements around my availability, so that there wasn’t any interference with the resettlement courses that I was attending.

What did your placement entail?

My placement was for 2 weeks with Lendlease at their £200 mil project on the Kingsgate (Residential) and Zig Zag (Retail and office) buildings in Victoria Street, which spans from 5 basement levels to 15 upper levels. During this period I spent time with the Project Manager, Senior Construction Manager, Construction Manager and Logistics Manager for the West (Zig Zag) site.

I arrived on the first day and had a brief chat with the Project Director, who then introduced me to the Senior Construction Manager, who I then shadowed (along with others at the site office) for the next week and a half. Everyone that I met on the construction site was very accommodating in allowing me to go with them around the site, answering my questions and asking me questions and my opinion on ways to solve some of the issues that had occurred.

During my 2 weeks I was lucky to experience, in some way, the following;

  • Safe systems of work
  • Change management
  • Crisis management
  • Day to day site running issues
  • Contractor issues / liaison
  • Health & Safety
  • Meetings (Team, Co-ord, H&S, design)
  • Work permit issues
  • Method statements
  • Reason For Change (RFC)
  • Design changes
  • Studying the architect drawings for issues and possible ways to save time and money (without an increase in risk) during the construction and dry lining of the risers.
  • Lendleases’ “Beat the Drop” safety campaign about tool security whilst working at height.

Which skills gained from your time in the military did you use during the placement?

Having left the Royal Engineers, my experience (although not artisan traded) of the construction tasks with which I was involved in, from the rank of Sapper to SSgt, meant that I could understand the processes of the labourer and tradesman, to the issues of their supervisor, and then the issues faced by the construction manager.

What obstacles did you face when settling into the placement?

With Lendlease there weren’t any obstacles put in the way, I was made to feel very welcome and was constantly invited to go on site walks with different people in the site office, which I feel has helped to give me a broader and better view of Lendlease in general.

What advice would you give other Service leavers considering a career in the construction industry?

Patience. There is plenty of work out there, it just takes time……

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