From The Corps of Royal Engineers to Slinger Signaller

Balfour Beatty VINCI, HS2

Daniel Wynn served in The Corps of Royal Engineers, for over 9-years, leaving as a Corporal in 2023. “Motor Transport Section Commander/Transport Fleet Manager, I was a section commander managing and leading 15 Military Engineer Drivers, acting as their first point of contact for any queries or concerns. My main role as Transport Fleet manager was to provide and maintain a vehicle fleet of over 50 platforms, including Land Rovers, HGV’s, Self-Loading Dump Trucks, Mobile Cranes and Plant Transporters. Forecasting routine maintenance and servicing, ensuring tasks were completed to a high standard. I was responsible for all Squadron lifting Operations, I initially trained as a mobile crane operator, slinger signaller and crane supervisor. I then went onto complete the Appointed Person Lifting Operations course, where I planned and managed all squadron lifting operations involving mobile cranes, lorry loaders and self-loading dump trucks. As an Appointed Person, I also managed the safety inspections and calibration of all lifting accessories. A typical day I would brief my team on tasks for the day, which were mainly routine servicing and maintenance of the vehicle fleet. I would organise and task Drivers in my team to carry out Logistic ‘details’, which usually involved the transportation of vital stores, kit and equipment to areas around the UK. I would ensure the vehicle fleet was always highly deployable, forecasting servicing and maintenance, deconflicting with upcoming training exercises, deployments, courses, and logistic details, whilst liaising with other departments and senior management.

During my service I developed soft skills such as exceptional time management, problem solving and decision making, these are second nature to service leavers. I honed these skills managing a fleet of transport during busy periods, ensuring tasks were completed on time and to specification. Elsewhere, I developed my skills in leadership, management, and site supervision. leading multi traded teams on Construction deployments in Canada, Germany, and the UK. During these deployments, I acted as the Infrastructure Section Commander. Setting teams to work, managing multiple construction tasks at once, managing logistics and materials to and from site, whilst back briefing senior management on the progress.

I am now a Slinger Signaller for Balfour Beatty VINCI working in partnership with HS2. I visited the BuildForce Project Day on HS2, hosted by Balfour Beatty VINCI, in May 2022. Afterwards, BuildForce connected me to Marcus Clarke (Logistics Manager BBV). Marcus organised an site visit for myself, where I had a site tour with Peter Rigby (Construction Director BBV). I also had the chance to speak to Managers and department heads, such as Health and Safety and Lifting Operations. I was really interested in Lifting Operations as I had some experience from my time as a Slinger/Signaller, Crane Operator, Supervisor and Appointed Person in the Royal Engineers. After I expressed an interest in going down this route with Dion Bond (Construction Manager, Lifting Operations BBV) Marcus, Peter and Dion organised a 3-week work placement for me with the Lifting team. At the end of the successful work placement, Dion offered me a role as a Slinger Signaller within the Lifting team, with an offer of clear career progression. I prepared for this by gaining all the relevant qualifications to ensure a smooth and seamless transition. These included, Level 3

First Aid at Work, Site Manager Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS), CPCS Slinger Signaller, Lift Supervisor and Appointed Person, CSCS Manager and Professional test, NPORS Slinger Signaller and Lift Supervisor.

My biggest support was BuildForce, and their highly connected network helped me massively during my transition. From my first email to Caroline right through to the end where Kathleen was pushing to get my offer of employment over the line, they were amazing, and I will be eternally grateful. I found having a clear plan of action was massively beneficial. Planning courses, work placements, employment fairs, webinars, and CV sessions well in advance allowed me to maximise all the time allotted to me during my resettlement.  Being persistent also helped me, I emailed, direct messaged on LinkedIn to people with job roles I was interested in, wrote letters to companies that interested me. I had a goal of connecting with 5 people per week on LinkedIn, networking with people who were already doing the job I wanted and asking them questions, getting the inside track and any tips to help me, I found to be massively beneficial.

Unfortunately whilst serving, I had a difficult Chain of Command, who were reluctant to let me leave on courses, interviews, and job fairs. I found this to be a challenge as it felt I was constantly fighting them to release me to pursue my resettlement. This is where having a clear plan, with all my courses booked well in advance paid dividends. I faced lots of rejection, applying for job advertisements, emailing and messaging people and not hearing anything back. It was disheartening at first, but persistence is key. I would like to have seen more companies offering work placements, even very short term, a couple of days, just to get a feel for different roles available. I would have liked to have seen more detailed briefs on pensions, knowing what exactly you are entitled to, when you are entitled to it, and how you go about claiming it.

With regards to the day job, I am responsible for attaching and detaching loads to lifting equipment during lifting operations, selecting the correct lifting accessories in accordance with the lift plan, signalling the lifting operation using approved methods, ensuring the load is stable and secure during lifting, using approved slinging techniques, liaising with plant operators and deliveries, maintaining exclusion zones of the lifting operation, building relationships with other trades involved in construction task. I am currently working on the construction of the Guide Raft for the A46 Box slide structure, mainly working with steel fixers, we are currently using a 90 Tonne mobile crane. Every morning we receive a site briefing of tasks for that day. I then receive a specific lifting briefing of tasks for that day. We travel to site and ensure the lifting accessories have been checked before use and are serviceable. My lifting supervisor will liaise with general foreman and trade supervisors to organise and prioritise what loads we will be lifting and confirming lay down positions, I will organise what lifting accessories are required for each lift. We unload any scheduled deliveries that require lifting equipment.  Having exceptional time management, problem solving, using my initiative, quick thinking and decision making. Being able to communicate with people is massively important, just making sure that people are clear and content with the plan of action goes along way and keeps people happy. Having a good sense of humour also goes along way with developing relationships with the site teams.

Advice I would give other, research and look into the type of role you might enjoy, connect and network with people who currently do those jobs and ask lots of questions, be persistent, you will face rejection, but someone will always offer advice. Think about the skills you already have and skills you will need to ensure a successful transition into that role. Think about what courses and qualifications you can do that will help you in your new role. Try and gain some work experience in that job role. Maximise your resettlement time, use all the grants, travel warrants and leave days available. Don’t waste anything.

Three words to describe a career in construction is rewarding, fulfilling, and eye-opening. I would describe a Veteran as enthusiastic, hard-working, and driven.”