Daniel Sherlock joined Morgan Sindall on a week’s work experience placement in September 2018, two days after leaving the forces. Just three days later and he had secured a three month contract.
A qualified carpenter and joiner, Daniel had secured his trade through an apprenticeship when he was 16 and then went on to work for a variety of contractors undertaking fit out works throughout the UK. However, when recession hit and the industry turned, Daniel looked to his passion for wanting to join the forces to become a reality:
“I’d always wanted to be in the forces and the parachute regiment appealed to me because of the scale of the challenge. The industry wasn’t good and this was the perfect moment to move.”
Daniel stayed in the Para’s for seven years, gaining various promotions to Section Commander, before looking to leave and return to the industry in a more settled and stable environment.
“I think the Para’s gives you a brilliant mindset and if you have the right mindset, then everything is achievable. I was in charge of a whole section of the platoon, so that involved missions as well as career development for the guys. The seven core values the Para’s give you are a really good cultural grounding to take forward.”
There wasn’t much time for rest between careers, as Daniel finished in the Para’s on Friday and started with Morgan Sindall on Monday. This is partly down to the fact that another contractor deal for employment had fallen away, leaving Daniel without a job. Caroline Logan from BuildForce got in touch with Senior PM Dan Morrish, and quickly sorted a week’s work experience to fill the gap. Daniel was thrown in at the deep end at Morgan Sindall’s £19m Lexden SEN School project in Essex, undertaking site risk assessments, method statements, checking quality and helping with drawing assessments. Happily, on day three, his placement was upgraded to an extendable three month contract due to his great attitude, expertise, hard work and professionalism.
” An offer I received had fallen away and so I’d paid for some safety courses. However, when Morgan Sindall got in touch, the work experience placement was too good an opportunity not to take, so I cancelled the courses and headed here. I said to Chris (MS Ops Director) that I really wanted to work for Morgan Sindall. It seemed like a great company from the outside, and having settled in so quickly, I knew it was. I’ve already been such a part of site life – it’s a good working atmosphere and the team is so professional”
Interview: Steven Smith
Where are you from?
I come from Chorley, near Preston. I’m currently based in Minley, near Fleet.
What has been your role at CVB?
I’ve been on a BuildForce two-week work placement, getting a range of experience in health and safety, lifting operations and surveying.
How did you hear about this opportunity?
Word of mouth really. I knew other service members who’d done similar placements recommended it. I had an idea of what I wanted to do in the future and this seemed like a chance not to be missed.
What were you doing before CVB?
I’m a corporal in the Royal Engineers.
Have you been on any deployments?
Yes, I’ve been to Afghanistan for three tours.
What are your thoughts of the project?
It’s been absolutely brilliant – that’s the best description I can give it. It’s far exceeded my expectations and I’ve been surprised by the depth of involvement I’ve been allowed. When I sat in on meetings I was asked for my input. It’s been great to be allowed to contribute to such an important project. Everyone’s been really helpful, asking about my background and helping me to make the most of the experience.
Do you have any plans for the future?
The placement has helped me to cement what I want to do after I leave the military in July. I think I’d like to get more involved in health and safety advisory roles. This placement has opened up a range of opinions and experiences of the industry and this type of role. It’s been really great to take what I’ve been told previously about health and safety and to see it actually applied.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
Just how much of a great opportunity this has been. It’s really opened up my eyes massively. BuildForce and the type of placements CVB offer – they’re such a brilliant opportunity for ex-service members. I definitely would recommend it.
Interview: Sam Arnold
Last week Tideway Talk spoke with Sam Arnold about his time at Tideway East.
Hello Sam. Tell us about yourself.
My name is Sam Arnold and I’m from Farnborough in Hampshire. I’m married with three children and a sergeant in the Royal Marines. I’ve just finished a two-week placement at Tideway East.
How did you come to Tideway East?
Through a scheme with BuildForce UK, who help secure work placements in the construction industry for active service members and veterans. Tideway has been my second placement.
Has Tideway differed from your other placement?
Yes, it’s been a real eye-opener how such a major operation can be really organised and the staff motivated.
What has been your role at Tideway East?
I have been embedded with the Health, Safety and Wellbeing team. Predominantly based at Chambers Wharf, I’ve had the opportunity to visit the other sites. My placement has given me a really broad experience of the project. I’ve been on site performing SHE inspections and also able to gain experience with some of the other teams such as Quality and Logistics.
What was your role in the forces?
For the past 22 years I have been in the Royal Marines. I’ve been on deployment to the sort of places you’d expect a Marine to go. In 2001-02 I was in Northern Ireland. In 2003 I was in Iraq and in 2007 I was in Afghanistan.
My current role is in the State ceremonial team within a 1,500 man training establishment at HMS Collingwood, I deliver ceremonial training (marching practice) and organise key ceremonial events like the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo and November Remembrance ceremonies at the Cenotaph.
What has the experience of Tideway been like?
I think I was quite sheltered until I came to Tideway. Doing something different after 22 years in the same job has really exposed me to new ways of working. I’ve seen how the management system works at Tideway East, how people can collaborate to succeed.
It has been really great to work with the Lifting Team to learn not just the importance of safety but how to ensure safety measures are maintained. Working with the Logistic Team on Traffic Management Plans has taught me how to plan for Health and Safety.
It really has been a broad learning experience. For example, my afternoon with Barrymore Nicholls, Tunnelling Manager, was a great opportunity.
Is there anything you’ll miss from your time at Tideway?
I’ve really enjoyed being able to try out a new role which has really helped me develop my skills set. Being in a new operation and learning about different ways of working has given me a lot I can take away to apply to my current role.
I’ve been really well looked after. Even though everyone is busy, they’ve all been very supportive. Andy Brown, my main contact, has really helped me make the most of my two weeks.
Do you have any future plans?
I want to take what I have learnt and be able to apply it. I’ve got my NEBOSH (National General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety) – being able to add a practical Health and Safety experience will really help me elsewhere.
What are doing next?
I’m back to work – starting off in Portsmouth.
Owolabi (Labi) Dominic
Murphy have partnered with BuildForce UK to offer assistance to ex-Service personnel helping facilitate the transition from Military to construction careers and it is through our network of Mentors that Veterans are able to reach their full potential.
BuildForce Mentors offer one to one support and guidance throughout the journey from Military to civilian life. Colin Willows who is the Lead Technical Trainer at Murphy and also a veteran hosted Owolabi (Labi) Dominic who completed 7 years with 5 Rifles, completing operational duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, Labi is currently a Large Goods Vehicle Driver and is already equipped with a wide range of Health and Safety qualifications.
Labi is currently studying through the British Safety Institute to gain a level 6 Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety. He already holds certificates in NEBOSH General, Fire and Construction.
His goal is to secure a safety advisor opportunity in the construction industry. Murphy hosted Labi over the 21 – 24 August to get an insight to the construction industry and safety related occupations. He has shadowed safety advisors in their role, learning about the wide range of safety documentation that is applied daily in Murphy. He visited AMK Deephams a joint venture project for the client Thames Water and was hosted by Gavin Cournane. He also shadowed safety advisors working on the Agility Alliance carrying out their safety duties.
Labi is very keen to pursue a Health and Safety career and would be delighted to get an opportunity at Murphy, he has found the work placement rewarding in terms of information, understanding the complexities of the industry and meeting friendly people in our company.
“A good experience and an eye opener into the construction industry and particularly as my week was focused on safety advisors duties. I will now never walk past any unsafe situation, I would now try to offer advice to help others from getting into danger.”
24 August 2018 at Deephams
ENGIE have partnered with Build Force UK to provide mentors for service leavers so that they can gain employment within the construction industry. Build Force UK is an alliance of construction employers, industry bodies and service charities, supported by the Government, which connects Service Leavers and Veterans with job opportunities
in construction and gives construction employers access to a unique pool of Armed Forces talent.
Stewart Digweed, a former logistics Project Manager spent 28 years within the Royal Engineers and is the first Central Region Build Force placement. He has been working with the Project Management team at Lenton and the Nottingham Decent Homes contract to see whether the knowledge and experience gained whilst in the forces could translate into the
Stewart has been working with the Project Manager on the refurbishment works looking at job specifications as well as the programme of works and pricing of void properties. Whilst at Lenton on the new build scheme he shadowed Site Manager
Glenn reviewing progress on site and had time with the building inspector assessing the works that had been carried out.
Stewart is keen to progress into employment as a Project Manager and has found the placement a
beneficial experience and even extended his placement by an extra week.
“It has been a great opportunity to work with the ENGIE team on site as many of the duties I have seen and undertaken
whilst on placement have all been tasks I performed whilst in the forces. The experience has confirmed to me that I have the knowledge I need to pursue a Project Management role in the construction industry.”
Client: Nottingham City Homes (NCH)
Value: £14 million
Date: 5th – 16th February 2018
Good morning Carla.
Firstly I would very much like to thank you for the opportunity to work with your company over this week at the Oakhampton site. It enabled me to experience some of the construction processes, albeit, over a short period, that takes place during a large project such as the school, which I found to be both fascinating and impressive. The level of professionalism and dedication from the Project manager to the subcontractors was inspiring.
From the start, Marcus, Dave, and their team welcomed me into the fold, at every step explaining the processes involved in the build, from the roles and responsibilities of the site manager to costing, budgets, and management of the site. Marcus was always happy to talk through any questions that I had, and there were many, with patience and enthusiasm, which only highlighted to me how much passion he has for what he does, and is a credit to your company.
As I am also potentially exploring the health and safety side of construction, as well as site management, Marcus arranged for me to speak with Mark Fouach, which I found to be extremely beneficial as I am about to start my NEBOSH General Certificate with SSG, and as discussed possibly arrange a few days from the 9th October to accompany Mark on a few site visits if possible?
Many thanks for the opportunity you have provided, I thoroughly enjoyed my time on site and working with your team, it has only reinforced my interest in working within the construction industry and I hope to hear from you soon.
As one door closes another one opens! After a successful career in the Royal Marines over the last decade, I decided it was time to hang up the beret in exchange for a hard hat. I have had an amazing career to date and it has shaped me into the person I am today; I wouldn’t change one second of it. However, going away for six months at a time on deployments isn’t an ideal life for someone who wants to have a family. Therefore, in March 2018, I began my ‘seven click’ (resignation) process.
In the forces, we must serve a year’s notice, which of course is a blessing and a challenge as you can imagine. I had a long time to think about my next moves and where I wanted to go and although it was difficult, I was committed to moving on. I didn’t know immediately that construction would be my next adventure, but I knew my skills were in project management and leadership, so I began to look at various options.
I first looked at a number of different programmes from various sectors and after months of deliberation, I found myself standing in One Canada Square, Canary Wharf, to pursue the financial sector. I had an epiphany, why would I want to give up the rolling countryside of Devon, for the rat-race that lay before me? Whilst this kind of move might be perfect for some, I knew my heart wasn’t truly in London and home is Devon. Therefore, I returned to the homeland and began to research which industries were growing and I kept coming back to construction.
My naivety led me to believe that construction was solely based on being ‘out in all weather, getting mucky and working all hours to get the job done’. I soon realised that this wasn’t the case; I was a plumber before joining Her Majesty’s Royal Marines, and therefore, have some experience within this field, in addition to my transferrable skills learnt during my military career. After much deliberation, I decided to pursue a career in site management.
Even though, I had some experience working in this sector, I still needed support making connections and finding opportunities. Fortunately, I found a company called BuildForce who are an organisation which help current and former serving personnel into construction. I’m struggling to find the words to describe how amazing this organisation is and how supportive they are. I also must say I had an enormous amount of help from the Royal Marines charity. Both helped me to obtain direct contact with some very desirable employers within the industry.
After an initial email, I received a phone call to arrange a consultation and following a conversation with a member of the BuildForce team who offered great advice and guidance, I received several emails confirming various work placements.
I was taken aback by their speed and professionalism, but with so many opportunities suddenly before me, I made the necessary arrangement and booked my time off work. Within a week I found myself at Exeter University, on a work placement secured by BuildForce with one of their founding partners, Morgan Sindall.
I was greeted by the Site Manager, Gav who was also a former Royal Marine, he shared his experiences of his five-year career within this industry; his knowledge and expertise were evident from the offset. He was clearly passionate about the job, which showed through his extensive knowledge of everything going on with the site.
The first day, was spent shadowing Gav and I absorbed every single detail. Working ‘hands-on’ for me, is the best way to learn. I feel there are things you just can’t get from a text book compared to experiencing it first-hand. The role is ever changing, fast paced, and exciting; by the end of the day, I was hooked and I knew this was the right path for me! It felt comfortable to be on site, perhaps, due to my past site experiences or maybe it was being surrounded by like-minded people. The more I experienced throughout the week, the more I knew I had to make this my future career.
For the remainder of the week I continued to shadow Gav, conducting simple tasks from assisting with paperwork to ensuring the workforce were in place. Overall I learnt a great deal, but primarily:
- The customer is always right.
- What is seen on site, does not represent what actually happens behind the scenes.
- Even though there must be a separation between the main contractor and the sub-contractors, keeping them on side is KEY, but also knowing when and how to use your authority is even more important.
- You must remain flexible!
On the Thursday I met with the contract manager and quantity surveyor. Again, I was greeted with smiles and of course I asked a million questions, but why not, I’m here to learn. I did ask the question so what happens next? to which I was told I will be contacted next week. It wasn’t until my drive home that evening, I realised I was actually being sized up to work for one of the biggest companies in the industry.
The following Monday, I received a phone call from the contract’s manager asking me to attend an interview to which I of course accepted. I am pleased to say the interview went very well and I have been offered a position within the company. Needless to say, I have a lot of learning to do, but I would advise any service personnel considering this move that you really do have the core skills that are transferable to this industry, but you are going to have to learn and that takes time. If you are keen, hardworking and open minded then you will succeed.
My final advice; if you are thinking about joining construction regardless of which area of expertise, contact BuildForce who will support you; you have nothing to lose and maybe a lot to gain.