From the Royal Navy to Built Estate Project Manager

VIVO Defence

David Lapworth served in the Royal Navy, Fleet Air Arm for thirty three years, between 1989 and 2022, leaving with the rank of Chief Petty Officer. “During my career I worked as an Aircraft Engineer/Supervisor, Career Manager, Squadron Workforce Controller, Air Station Accountable Person including 20 years working on Lynx helicopters deploying all over the world (Caribbean, Gulf, Global, Antarctica, Baltic, Iraq, Afghanistan). The latter part of my career was spent in management roles on Squadrons, Navy Command and RNAS Yeovilton Infrastructure department.  In my most recent role I liaised with DIO and Amey/Vivo with ongoing works on site, ensuring operational output could be achieved whilst maintaining statutory compliant buildings and safe projects, instructing and mentoring Building Custodians

Some of the skills I gained whilst serving included managing people, thorough processes (aircraft work), time management, communication (in person, presentations & email), planning (short and long term from my time as a Workforce Controller and Career Manager), and working ethos (work hard, respect, collaborate, integrity)

I am now working as a Built Estate Project Manager for Vivo Defence Services.  I joined from the Royal Navy as the Billable Works Manger (mini projects) and then interviewed for a new role after a years’ experience.  Working with civilians in my last role helped me adjust with language/slang, working culture and how contracts work.

In my new role, I manage and co-ordinate major projects from start to completion on military sites in the Dorset area. This involves liaising with in-house designers for scopes of work, agreeing specification with client and customer, managing the contractor/s during the construction phase on Health and Safety and progress of works. Acting as the Principal Designer and Principal Contractor (CDM) during the whole process.

The nature of my work involves planning, co-ordination of different parties and clear communication (verbally and written). These are all skills that were taught and used daily throughout my naval career. We take it for granted because we just “crack on” with the task in hand.  My last role really helped me transition and the fact I still work around the military (albeit the Army), I found the only challenge was HMRC messing up my pay.

I was lucky as my transition was relatively easy and BuildForce helped.  The courses at RTC Aldershot were good. My advice is to take ownership of your planned transition. No one will do it for you and remember your skills will not be missed when you leave the forces. They’ll cope!

Don’t be worried if you haven’t got the experience others around you in the construction industry may have. Remember we move from role to role in the Armed Forces and have always adapted to the changing needs. It’s your work ethic and values of trust, reliability and being adaptable that is priceless in this industry.”

The three words David would use to describe a career in the construction industry –  rewarding (physically seeing a completed job), broad (varying roles with many different paths) and evolving (new visions with sustainability, Net-Zero, ecology).