From the Royal Engineers to Jacobs
Nick spent 16 years in the Royal Engineers from 2004, finishing as Major in 2019. His roles during his service were Troop Commander, Intelligence Officer, Squadron Second in Command, Instructor at the Land Warfare Centre, Professional Engineering Student, Infrastructure Staff Officer in Army HQ, Officer Commanding 521 STRE (Water Development).
As the officer commanding 521 Specialist Team Royal Engineers, a typical day for Nick would usually start with some form of physical training with the team, catch-up with the Training Warrant Officer about operations, discipline and training and then out of the office to observe training and daily activities.
Nick learnt a multitude of skills during his military career, but being able to rigorously prioritise, leading people (including the understanding of inclusivity), managing projects and risk, and working from first principles with a sound technical understanding are the qualities which have enabled him to transition into a new and highly complex wastewater industry sector.
Nick’s current role is Portfolio Manager with BuildForce Alliance partner Jacobs, working on a design and build joint venture (JV) with Volker Stevin called C2V+. The JV is delivering brownfield wastewater solutions for United Utilities PLC in the South East of their area over the next five years. He secured this role through a connection already working within Jacobs who then shared his CV with the Jacobs’ Talent Management team.
Networking was the key driver during Nick’s transition to “civvy street”, although negotiating the time with the chain of command to start this early and devote enough time to it also helps.
“Don’t be afraid to reach out to people, I was humbled by the number of ‘strangers’ who were willing to help.”
Nick’s biggest challenge was getting his CV in front of the right people but in general, he felt his transition went reasonably well and was supported throughout.
In his new role, Nick manages a team of discipline engineers to deliver complex, multi-discipline projects on time and to budget for wastewater treatment works. He liaises with the client and delivery partners to manage their interfaces. He also monitors and manages programme risks, progress against schedule and budget to report up to the JV board. Nick uses all the skills he honed in the Army in his new job; analysis and leading a team being the most critical.
When asked, what advice he would give to someone leaving the Armed Forces seeking a new career in construction, he replied:
“Understand what role you want to end up in and then go after it. Be resilient and keep pushing for network contacts that will give you access to that industry. Don’t get distracted by fabled success stories, just set your own realistic objectives.”
And the three words you would describe a career in construction? Interesting, challenging and rewarding.