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GE jobfile

Name: Gavin Greenwood


Occupation: geotechnical manager, Applied Environmental Research Centre (AERC)

Route to the job:

After graduating from Oxford Polytechnic in 1985 with a degree in earth sciences, I fell into geotechnical engineering after phoning Wimpey Laboratories and asking for a job. I spent two years on site before leaving to do an MSc in foundation engineering at Birmingham University. After that, I spent six months with Sir Owen Williams and Partners before going back to Wimpey. I stayed for eight years, moving from project engineer to principal engineer and ending up in the Warrington office. In 1998, I moved across the Pennines to join ECoS Environmental in Leeds as an environmental consultant before heading south early last year to join AERC as geotechnical manager.

Typical day:

Each day brings new challenges. I can be out trial pitting for a new housing development, liaising with the Environment Agency over remediation of a contaminated site, or writing CQA plans for earthworks engineering. Most days will have some element of project management to deal with, client liaison and business development and geotechnical design. Over the past year, projects have varied from slope stability assessment and reclamation for a site in Greenwich, to materials suitability assessment for use as landfill liner, to providing contaminated land seminars for house-builders.

Highs and lows:

I like dealing with the different aspects of the job and working as part of a multidisciplinary team - as most work requires nowadays. I like the fact the industry is constantly changing and providing new challenges and that the work can take me to any part of the country. On the down side, there are the cold wet winter days on site and the fact that many clients still need educating on the value of geotechnics - they don't always appreciate that the cheapest is not necessarily the best.


To increase awareness of good geotechnical practice with clients by providing the best quality information that supplies the answers they need.


Experience all aspects of geotechnics in the early stages of your career, from site investigation to design. Be flexible and listen to clients'needs. And never be afraid to ask questions - it's the quickest way to learn.

GE Jobfile in association with BBT Geotechnical Search & Selection geotechnics@bbt. co. uk

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