Mark Rochester


From the Royal Engineers to Project Manager

Mark served 24 years in the Royal Engineers between 1996-2020, completing his service as WO1. His role initially was as a Combat Engineer and Land Surveyor before taking the Clerk of Works (Construction) course, providing the qualifications and training to plan, prepare and oversee construction tasks.

A typical day for Mark in his last military role as Requirements Manager UK Strategic Command involved working alongside DIO to deliver the end user infrastructure support to in turn deliver their missions. His role included submitting business cases, often requiring ministerial approval.

Whilst serving, key skills Mark acquired was problem solving; being able to adapt and overcome to ensure the outcome was efficient and successful. Communication and the ability to quickly react to a changing situation is bred into most serving personnel and this is equally as important within the forces as it is to any civilian positions.

Mark’s current role as Project Manager for Amey Highways was secured through BuildForce and its Alliance partner Amey. He began in the position 2 months prior to it being advertised and the hiring manager admitted his CV would have failed the original ‘sift’ due to his lack of highways experience but as they’d seen his work they realised his transferable skills filled the gaps.

Mark’s previous role working alongside civilians helped his transition to “civvy street” but also his willingness to invest in himself, including paying course fees out of his own pocket. Due to Covid his CTP workshops and courses were cancelled so paying for the courses himself in his opinion was purely investing in his family’s future. Covid was his biggest challenge and as such, he would have liked more support from the military to do the necessary courses in his last two years of resettlement.

Mark’s current role is project managing highways and lighting schemes within Sheffield which involves a great amount of liaison with the City Council, commercial, QS and tradesmen. His role is rather varied, with no two days the same; leaving the house at 0630 and usually returning around 1830hrs and even then it feels like there’s not enough hours in the day – it’s a constant battle keeping on top of emails and ensuring the client receives quality customer care.

Key skills gained during Mark’s military career which he utilises daily as a project manager are stakeholder engagement and communication. In the Royal Engineers you may only be a young Sapper but you’re briefing much higher ranks as the tradesman SME and their decisions are based on your advice.

Mark advises anyone leaving the Armed Forces seeking a new career in construction to:

“Get some qualifications ASAP. Often people think they’ll do the APMP as they’re leaving and they don’t have the experience to go with it. If you can’t get the CSCS card through the forces or career workshops, pay for it. I paid for the CSCS and SMSTS course and it made my CV stand out.”

Finally, Mark would describe a career in the construction industry as: “Frenetic, varied and achievable.”