Anthony Ashurst

Tilbury Douglas Construction

From the Royal Engineers to Senior Site Engineer

Anthony spent 12 years in the Army before leaving as Acting Sergeant on the 1st February 2021. During his service, Anthony was a Class 1 Combat Engineer Section Commander, which meant he supervised all Combat Engineering tasks such as Explosive Demolitions, Explosive Method of Entry (EMO), Mine Warfare, Bridge Building, Watermanship, Water Supply, Route Denial and Field Fortifications.

Anthony’s last role in the Army was as an Engineering Surveyor Instructor at 1 Royal School of Military Engineering Regiment. He was the SNCO running an undermanned department independently, responsible for delivering all military Engineering Surveying modules to Class 2 (Level 3) trainees and Class 1 (Level 5) students. These lessons included draughtsmanship, setting-out, survey management/ planning, tunnelling and route reconnaissance. Outside of the classroom and back in the office his responsibilities involved looking after personnel individual welfare issues, daily administration, reporting department issues and functionality to CoC, and forecasting/ avoiding lesson clashes between courses.

Anthony’s skills gained during his service were maximised due to him having the responsibility of both JNCO/SNCO roles; such as time management and organisation as well as his technical expertise being both current and proficient.  He was able to also grow as a coach and mentor, further developing his leadership qualities and inspiring the next generation of Combat Engineers and Engineering Surveyors. In addition to this, delivering presentations, lessons and department reporting were a daily occurrence, building on his confidence.

Anthony now works as a Senior Site Engineer at Tilbury Douglas Construction which he gained through his technical qualifications, researching his desired career path and setting goals that aligned with his ambitions. He also worked hard on his applications, thinking ‘outside the box’ (a key military skill!), networked, researched companies extensively and then contacted the company director on LinkedIn, which led to a phone call and finally employment.

Anthony’s desire to leave and succeed in civilian life acted as his main driver and meant an easy transition, along with the positive support from BuildForce and LinkedIn; however, work responsibilities conflicting with resettlement activities proved to be the main challenge. For this reason, Anthony would have liked to have seen further help and advice from subject experts in administration of transitioning service leavers as he felt there were few education and resettlement officers (IERO) who were often difficult to get hold of.

In Anthony’s new role, he has many responsibilities; below are a few key areas:

  • Setting out and surveying sites
  • Checking plans and drawings
  • Agreeing prices for materials to make cost-effective solutions for intended projects
  • Managing the site daily, along with monitoring and interpreting the contract design documents
  • Informing architects, engineers and surveyors of project progress regularly in meetings
  • Overseeing quality control and health and safety matters on site, preparing reports as required

A typical day now for Anthony starts promptly at 0730 with emails followed by delivering inductions to any new sub-contractors on site. He then checks equipment and survey control, as well as any client drawing revision updates, interprets and communicates drawing updates and issues sub-contractors permits to work. Finally, Anthony sets out lines and levels for Plant Operators and Tradesmen, checks compliance, documents and reports site progress, all whilst promoting the H+S culture and finally closes sub-contractor permits to finish his working day at 1700.

The key skills gained during Anthony’s military service and of greatest value in his current role are:  punctuality, time management, multi-tasking, presenting and paying attention to detail.

Anthony’s advice to someone leaving the Armed Forces and looking for a career in his own words:

  • Register with Buildforce
  • Google search ‘Top 20 LinkedIn tips’ and complete them all, as soon as possible. My LinkedIn always receives good feedback, it has been updated over the course of the last 5 years. Connect with people in the same job/ role/ trade/ career
  • Research the industry, adapt terminology, post/share relevant content
  • Don’t just rely on ‘transferable skills’, put yourself out there with the best of them on a technical level; qualifications and experience are critical to success
  • Complete  Civilian Work Attachments (work placements) as employers are often impressed by you
  • Start your CV LAST YEAR and revisit it periodically: daily, weekly, monthly – whatever, change it EVERYTIME based on what you’ve learned about your industry/ job role since you last changed it. I started my CV 5 years ago and I was still changing it the night before I sent it to my company director.
  • Learn about CVs and approaching the market online. CTP and BuildForce are a great resource
  • Attend BuildForce webinars and then watch them again
  • Know your LinkedIn account and CV inside out. DO THEM YOURSELF!!!

Finally, Anthony describes a career in the construction industry as: “Challenging. Rewarding. Unpredictable.”