Tristan Hunt


From the Royal Engineers to Engineering Surveyor

Tristan served in the Royal Engineers leaving as a Sapper after 5 years service between 2016 and 2021. His role was as a Survey Engineer within the Specialist Team (STRE), part of 63 Works Group. A typical day, for Tristan as a military surveyor, would be based alongside the draughtsmen working out of a drawing office. Tasks would include anything from; survey reconnaissance, topographic surveys, setting out for construction or just maintaining the survey equipment.

Tristan’s key skillset gained during his military service was his trade training as an engineering/land surveyor at the Royal School of Military Engineering. This course instilled the basics and processes behind the automated kit which has been invaluable to him in his current role.

Tristan now works as a Site Engineering Surveyor on the iconic HS2 with joint venture Balfour Beatty Vinci (BBV). He gained this position through the support of the BuildForce team introducing him to the recruitment manager, shortly followed by a successful interview with the Construction Director.

Tristan’s greatest support during his transition to ‘civvy street’ was BuildForce:

“I already had previous experience of the application/interview process, so I was confident in this area. What I didn’t have was any connections within the construction industry, so BuildForce really helped me to gain an understanding of what opportunities were around and who I should be speaking to.”

Challenges Tristan faced during his transition, included perfecting his CV and being happy with it as he felt this was his first opportunity to engage with an employer and make the right impression. Being able to concentrate on resettlement activities such as online events which were hosted during the day, often meant his head was still in his active role as a serving soldier rather than fully focused on the content of the event. Tristan would also like to have seen more promotion of organisations such as BuildForce and the Career Transition Partnership and found Virtual Career Chats insightful but would have appreciated more time off to attend these events.

As an engineering surveyor, Tristan’s role is split between fieldwork and processing in the office. On a daily basis, he will complete topographic surveys, setting out for earthworks and structures, drone surveys for progress reports and volume calculations, uploading models to the automated plant.

“It’s challenging and varied, I’ve learnt so much and I love it”.

A typical day for Tristan is completing daily admin before heading out on site to his sublot, which stretches to just over 12 km, splitting into many individual sites, resulting in daily visits to multiple sites. Once his site visits are completed, he returns to the office to process the data, and forward on to the relevant team.

The key transferable skills Tristan acquired during his military service and uses daily in his current role are:

  • Ability to work well as part of a team: understanding how your role fits into the bigger picture.
  • Solid work ethic: helping to motivate the team and overcome obstacles as an every day occurrence.
  • Adaptability: to switch focus from one task to the next at a moments’ notice, and the discipline to follow procedure in order to see it through.
  • Communication: conveying all the relevant details in an appropriate manner at every level.

Tristan‘s advice to someone leaving the Armed Forces and seeking a new career in construction is:

  • Obtain your CSCS card and ask your chain of command to release you for work experience/site visits which BuildForce can arrange.
  • Use LinkedIn to connect with people and follow local businesses of interest, which will provide you with current information and potential opportunities.
  • Identify courses which will enhance your chances of employment and use your Learning Credits. Ask people already doing the job which courses would be most useful.
  • Use BuildForce; the guidance and connections they can provide are priceless.

Finally, Tristan would describe a career in the construction industry as:

“Challenging. Diverse. Satisfying.”