From The Royal Engineers to Project Manager


Ryan Finnigan served in The Royal Engineers for over 14-years, leaving as a Sergeant, in 2021. “I joined the Royal Engineers as a Building and Structural finisher (B&SF) which is one of 19 trades they have in the corps. A B&SF does everything from plastering, tiling, painting and decorating, flooring and rendering. I promoted through the ranks up to Sergeant where I was employed as a RECCE Sgt. responsible for producing detailed reconnaissance plans around combat engineering tasks, allowing my OC to make informed tactical decisions. My most recent role was as a recruiting SNCO for the Royal Engineers. On a daily basis I would visit various establishments in the education/ employment sector and deliver informative briefs as well as residential packages, designed to engage, attract and recruit new candidates in the corps.”

With regards to the key skills from Ryan’s time serving “whilst serving I gained many skills and qualifications. Firstly, I completed my apprenticeship in Building & Structural Finishing (B&SF). I used this on various construction tours around the world helping to construct new and existing airbases in support to the RAF. Furthermore, I gained skills in coaching and mentoring as well as military instructional techniques. On promotion to Corporal, I was employed as a military instructor at the Royal School of Military Engineering, responsible for delivering the Class 2 and Class 1 B&SF apprenticeships. I also learned how to plan and run military construction projects including bridge building, demolitions and force protection. This led to me gaining a passion to move into project management after leaving the Army.”

Ryan’s current role is Project Manager, with RPS, a Tetra Tech company, “I am currently working on multiple construction schemes in the Northwest. I manage a team of wider consultants and contractors to deliver on behalf of clients and construction developers. During a typical day I am required manage construction contractors on site, ensuring the project is completed on time, to the right standard and within budget in line with H&S standards. I will chair progress meetings designed to engage and inform stakeholders, producing detailed minutes and establish a path forward. I regularly visit site to check standards and progress. Throughout the project I will manage and mitigate against potential risks whilst looking to gain from potential opportunities. Finally, I will manage any changes to the agreed scope.”

Ryan secured his role “through the BuildForce programme, I secured a role within Project Management for a construction consultancy firm, and I have since moved into my current role in which I am building on my existing knowledge and learning how to work to deliver projects in a civilian environment.”

Ryan’s advice to anyone leaving the armed forces and seeking a career in construction: “utilising the transition support offered by the Army to service leavers. Having a clear plan of what I wanted to do when I left. Feeding off old friend’s experiences who had preciously left and building a network on platforms like LinkedIn. Never underestimate the skills that you will have naturally gained throughout your military career. Don’t be scared to ask questions if you are unsure


about something. Chances are you knew the answer, but it was called something different or followed a similar process in the military.

“My greatest challenge during my transition was understanding how to sell my skills and experiences in a way that civilian employers could understand how I would benefit their organisation. I wish I knew about programmes like Buildforce at an earlier stage of my transition, so that I could have utilised their mentoring contacts and built a network and also find out what role would best suit my skill set.”

Military skills Ryan uses in his day job “understanding how to effectively communicate with various stakeholders involved with the project. Providing detailed updates and reports designed to keep relevant stakeholders informed on progress as well as building a relationship that allows the clients to feel confident in the project success.”

Ryan advised the three words to describe a career in construction as “challenging, educational and rewarding. And to describe veterans to civvy employers would be reliable, organised and committed.”