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GE jobfile

Name: Tom Uprichard

Age: 46

Occupation: technical director, Taranto de Pol, Tandragee, Northern Ireland

Route to the job:

'I did a civil engineering degree at the then Hatfield Polytechnic before moving to Wimpey Laboratories, where I got my training in soil mechanics.I then moved to France where I did nothing more than being an English language assistant at an engineering school for a couple of years, before taking up a post with soil improvement company Menard, which is based south of Paris.I spent five years there, working around the world, before returning to Ireland with my family.In 1990, after working for a number of small companies on various drilling, grouting and tunnelling projects, I co-founded Taranto in Tandragee, Northern Ireland, and since then have been technical director.'

Typical day:

'The original concept was to concentrate on the high-quality wetcasting of structural products such as piling, stairs and flooring primarily for shipment to Britain.When recession hit the British construction industry in the early 1990s, a crane was hired and the company offered a driven piling service all over Ireland.This short-term solution has turned out to be a long-term success.Today the company operates seven rigs all over the UK and Ireland - mainly piling and vibro-compaction work.I'm involved with tendering for projects, generally standard housing and industrial schemes with a few infrastructure projects.The information gathering system is such that I have people on site and control the process of pricing jobs from the head office.'

Highs and lows:

'The high has to be the successful commercial running of the business.The lows relate mainly to the failings of the contractual process; late payment is an eternal problem.You may ask why a technical person gets involved in this aspect of things - well, that's how problems are resolved.'

Ambitions:

'I don't think we can stabilise the sector, but if we could - and have a steady supply of work with a degree of business or technical innovation - then this would be an ambition realised.'

Advice:

'Nothing can be gained quickly.I'm still learning about geotechnical processes, people management and the commercial side of things.'

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