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Breaking for the border

Paul Steen is leaving the grime of London to lead Whitbybird's new Edinburgh-based civils team.

Scenic Scotland has proved an irresistible lure for Whitbybird's outward bound senior geotechnical engineer Paul Steen. He will be heading there in June with the challenge of starting up Whitbybird's first Scottish civil engineering team.

His team, of three or four will support Whitbybird's well established Glasgow office and its relatively new Edinburgh presence as well as seeking work in its own right.

'Whitbybird has always had an office in Glasgow and we opened Edinburgh 18 months ago. That has now grown to 20 people, pretty much split 50/50 between structures and services.

'I wanted to move to Scotland - my wife is Scottish and there is more countryside for me to get on my bike and walk in the mountains - and I wanted to get away from London's built-up areas.

'So this seemed a great opportunity, ' he explains. 'I pitched the idea and devised a business plan for a civils team to support the structures and services guys already up there.' And the infrastructure market in Scotland is booming, he says, with a wary eye on next week's elections.

Steen is Whtibybird through and through, having been with the firm the six years since graduating from Cambridge and having passed his chartered professional review last Autumn.

But he has found time to play a leading role in the amalgamation of the ICE's Association of London Graduates & Students (ALGS) committee into ICE London proper, and he intends to keep up his institutional work north of the border.

'I'm going to stay involved as it has been useful to get to know the people in the industry, ' he says.

He will also have one eye on Africa, where he has been working on a pro-bono design for a library with MP Clare CurtisThomas as part of a twinning project between Curtis-Thomas' hometown of Waterloo, Liverpool and Waterloo, Sierra Leone.

Q & A - Paul Steen

Career highlight: I don't think I've had it yet. In a couple of year's time I hope to be opening the library in Sierra Leone, and that would be special.

Secret hobby: I am trying my hand at golf, but I'm scoring well over 100 at the moment and so I won't be entering any golf days just yet.

Things you would save if your house was on re: I do have a rather strong attraction to my TV. Although in some ways I hope it would be the first thing destroyed, as it does take over my life.

Scariest moment: Free-falling from 14,000 feet would have to be up there. Sitting on the edge of the plane and looking down is something else. I would denitely advocate doing it, but doing it more than once is lunacy.

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