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GE jobfile

Name: Ken Read

Age: 39

Occupation: principal geoenvironmental engineer, Allott & Lomax, Birmingham.

Route to the job: 'I graduated from Edinburgh University with a 2:1 in Geology in 1982 and then spent a year in Stoke on Trent with AB Malkin where I 'discovered' site investigation and engineering geology. I left to do an MSc in engineering geology at Newcastle, graduating in 1984.

Since then I have been a nomad with an identity crisis; starting as an engineering geologist with Babtie Geotechnical in Glasgow. I joined Bullen & Partners in Darlington as senior geotechnical engineer in 1988 and in 1992 moved to Exploration Associates as principal geotechnical engineer. Following redundancy from EA in 1995 I joined Hyder in Plymouth as senior geotechnical engineer, and moved to Allott & Lomax in November last year. Along the way I gained chartered geologist status.'

Typical day: 'Every day is different, requiring attention to a number of projects, new opportunities and increasingly to business development. Days are divided between advising and briefing colleagues, liaising with existing and potential clients, technical and contractual management. Over the past year I have been involved in construction projects ranging from sewage treatment works in the Balkans to retail parks in central Scotland, and from small scale housing developments to multi-million pound brownfield regeneration projects.'

Highs and lows: 'Many clients (and engineers) still undervalue the role of geotechnics in projects, getting us involved only when problems arise and failing to see that if we are involved early we can often prevent or predict such matters. And too many clients only look at the price and not at the technical quality when awarding work. On the plus side, there's the variety of projects, working with experts in other disciplines and learning from them, seeing my ideas turned into reality, and finding ways of achieving clients' aims in a suitable and cost effective manner.'

Ambitions: 'To raise the profile of ground engineers with clients, to help improve the quality of data provision and interpretation, and to keep work enjoyable for myself and others around me.'

Advice: 'An MSc is invaluable if you want to progress. You must adopt a client-focused business approach on top of good discipline skills and keep up to date with good CPD. Finally enjoy it; keep everything in proportion and never lose your sense of humour - you will need it.'

GE Jobfile in association with BBT Geotechnical Search & Selection

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