Dewet Du Plessis

Eiffage Kier Ferrovial Bam (EKFB) HS2 JV (Joint Venture)

From Royal Marines Commando to HS2 Assistant Logistics Manager

Dewet spent 12 years in the Royal Marines from 2006 – 2018, finishing at the rank of Corporal. As a General Duty marine serving in an Armoured Support Unit, Dewet provided armoured support to ground troops in the desert and arctic environments. He then moved into a logistical role as a Stores Accountant, which included providing logistical support to ground troops in the UK, overseas operations and a posting in a British Indian Ocean Territory. He finished the last three years of his military career as a General Duties Marine, providing close protection for UK Defence nuclear material and assets.

A typical day in the Marines, included being able to provide protection for the movement of sensitive defence equipment, to enable UK Defence activity in the UK and across the Globe. Dewet had responsibilities which included planning, coordinating and delivering specialist driving courses to maintain the required levels of drivers that were needed for specific job roles. He also ensured that the resources were used wisely, and all legal compliances were met. Other roles included; coordinating the forward and reverse logistics movements of personnel and material during operational movements and training exercises.

Whilst serving, the main skills Dewet gained were:

  • Communication: working with stakeholders in various teams of differing nationalities from planning training exercises to conducting briefings and combat patrols on operations.
  • Leadership: basic military procedures developed a methodical approach to solving problems and improving team cohesion of multinational teams in often stressful and arduous conditions.
  • Operations Management: proven ability to understand and execute high level plans into definitive results and produce accurate and precise reports was learned from the need to understand the wider unit goal on operations and interpret this into what is needed for the section to perform its duties and objectives. By working with members of foreign militaries on overseas deployments, to conducting exercises and operations in the UK with various Police agencies, the ability to work comfortably with different agencies adhering to strict legal governance was acquired.
  • Risk Management: planning and conducting operational combat patrols or organising and conducting driving courses to handling and managing logistics equipment, the ability to identify the potential risks that may hinder the reputation, safety, security of an organisation and people was quickly learned. After completing career command courses, this skill grew into the ability to implement processes to successfully navigate and overcome potentially damaging outcomes.

These transferrable skills are used daily in Dewet’s new role as Assistant Logistics Manager for Eiffage Kier Ferrovial Bam (EKFB) HS2 JV (Joint Venture). He secured this role through BuildForce’s mentoring process which then lead him to apply for the role on the organisation’s recruitment portal.

However, he was still faced with a few challenges during his transition, and felt the career fairs were too generic with lots of information on too many different areas, with no real focus on any specific area. Instead, he would have found more direction on how to secure work placements whilst still serving more beneficial to a smoother transition.

In Dewet’s new career, he is working as part of a team responsible for delivering scalable and holistic logistics, security and support functions to enable construction across two areas within an 80km stretch of the HS2 construction project. He plays a pivotal role in supporting the logistic operation within an assigned area, carrying out a wide variety of tasks related to planning, managing, supervising, and coordinating operational support activities. Other roles and responsibilities include:

  • Deputising for Managers within the Logistics Team as and when required.
  • Providing guidance and management where delegated, on all matters relating to logistics including: Materials and equipment expediting, delivery, receipt, storage, management, tracking and issue to site.
  • Site infrastructure operations and management, including any off-site logistics consolidation centres.
  • Operational Support Logistics, including accommodation, welfare, refuelling and catering.
  • Assist in the development of effective logistics solutions to provide safe, robust and resilient support to construction activities through the formulation of Construction Logistic Plans.

A typical day involves liaising with stakeholders from various teams, acting as a link between the Operational Support Team doing the planning and procurement of items and logistical support and the Construction team doing the planning and building on various compounds to assets along the construction route.

Key skills learnt during his military career which he now utilises in his role with HS2 are clear communication; methodical approach to solving problems; not being scared to speak up; and planning and time keeping.

When asked what advice Dewet would give to someone who is leaving the Armed Forces and seeking a new career in construction, he replied:

“Work experience is the most valuable, if you can get some time with a Construction company. Buildforce is perfectly suited and connected with the major construction companies to be able to organise this. Use your leave if you are still in the forces and don’t be afraid to look at roles which may seem out of your skill range; you would be surprised by just how many life skills you do have that can be utilised in the construction industry. Coming from an infantry background, I was under the impression the only role I would be able to do is manual labour, but connecting with people in the industry highlighted the opportunities available and changed my outlook greatly.”

And finally, 3 words, he would use to describe a career in the construction industry:
challenging, exciting and rewarding.