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Ramboll Whitbybird - New opportunity

Ramboll Whitbybird's ethos has always been to nurture young engineers and give them early responsibility.

Whitbybird's merger with the Ramboll Group creates opportunities for all staff to spread their wings and tackle new challenges.

One of the best reasons for growing a business, according to Ramboll Whitbybird chairman Mark Whitby, is to create new opportunities for staff. Over the last 20 years Whitbybird has carved out a niche in the UK consultancy sector, with its young, energetic, design-led ethos, emphasis on building relationships with clients and architects, and a "work hard-play hard culture". Then, last year, it merged with the 7,500-strong Ramboll Group, one of Europe's largest consultants, with expertise in energy, infrastructure engineering, transport and masterplanning.

"There are new opportunities for staff through geographical expansion now that the company is part of a wider international group," says business development director Thomas Kveiborg. "It opens a lot of doors for people who want to be working abroad or even opening offices in new locations."


Non-contributory pension scheme
Private medical insurance
Permanent health insurance and life assurance
Profit- related bonus scheme
Interest free season ticket loans
Bicycle purchase scheme
Childcare and eyecare vouchers
Enhanced parental leave policies

Progressive working environment

Flexible working arrangements
Casual dress code
Open plan offices
Regular sporting events
Friday luncheons and monthly office socials

The company has already started building its presence in the Middle East and India, and Kveiborg foresees that the London office will be used as a stepping stone for penetrating new markets.

The major area of new opportunity is in renewable energy, as Ramboll is the world leader in low energy solutions, district heating and power, and offshore wind power. "The people to solve the mess we're all in environmentally are engineers," says Whitby. "That's quite exciting, and within the office we've got a huge spectrum of talents who can all contribute together to making solutions that are of significant value to clients and the wider community. New opportunities have also come from the group's wider range of activities, which include transport planning and the heavy civils market. "Being part of Ramboll has improved the opportunities for Ramboll Whitbybird to be competitive in big bridges," says Kveiborg. The Scandinavian firm's portfolio includes the 16km Øresund Link between Denmark and Sweden.

Ramboll Whitbybird is known for giving young engineers responsibility – something Mark Whitby has very strong feelings about. "We have a lot of young adults coming into our business, and to put constraints on their ability to learn and develop would be wrong," he says. "The most important thing we can do is to resource young engineers so they can flourish and, as they flourish, to recognise their ability and reward it.

"Our job as directors is to enable them to thrive and make it possible for them to have lives that are fulfilled all round," he continues.

Team players

Talented engineers, keen to take on responsibility in an informal but challenging environment characterises Ramboll Whitbybird teams.

Mateusz Krysiak says that no one could convince him to leave Poland – until he met Ramboll Whitbybird chairman Mark Whitby.
In 2006 he saw an advert for the company recruiting Polish engineers to work in the UK. "There was a small line which said they were keen to establish an office in Warsaw," he explains.

Whitby told Krysiak that the Warsaw office was still in planning, but suggested he come to London for a year to learn more about the company's culture. Mateusz arrived in April 2007, and has worked for the past year as a senior structural engineer on two large office buildings at London's Greenwich Peninsula. During that time, he has worked hard to make the Warsaw office a reality, initially setting up a Polish task group to bring together Polish speakers within the company.

The group's activities include organising a company wide "Polish day"– complete with presentations about the country and Polish food - and putting together a business plan for the Warsaw office.

The merger with Ramboll made the prospect more viable, as Ramboll already had offices in Poland. But rather than jump straight into one of those, Krysiak was keen to launch a new office in the mould of Ramboll Whitbybird's London set-up. "Not all consultants treat architects and clients as partners and take care of their staff in the way they do here," he says. "It is my dream to take that culture to Poland.

Matthew Petticrew associate (structures)

Matthew Petticrew joined as a graduate in 1998 when the business had only 150 staff.

"When I went to the interview it was quite unlike anywhere I'd been before, there was a quirkiness and an entrepreneurial spirit which was very attractive," he says.

Petticrew was promoted to senior engineer at 25 Đ just before getting chartered Đ and became an associate in 2006.

"As a senior engineer you're focused on the day to day delivery and detail of the job, but as an associate you're expected to bring work in and sell the business."

Last October Petticrew decided he wanted to move back to his home town of Glasgow, but did not want to leave the business. The company had an M&E team there, but no structural engineers.

"I talked to my boss about the possibility of putting something in place up there," explains Petticrew. "The M&E team had some contacts, and we had a team in Edinburgh, so that gave us a starting point.

"I also had some clients who wanted to do something in Glasgow, so the pieces were all there."

Sanna Supponen design engineer

For Finnish-born design engineer Sanna Supponen Whitbybird's merger with Ramboll has had an immediate benefit: later this month she returns to Finland for a 12-month secondment with Ramboll's construction management group, working on a water tunnel refurbishment project.

Supponen has been in the UK for nine years, having studied at Imperial College, London, where Ramboll Whitbybird sponsored her to build earthquake-resistant houses in El Salvador.

She joined the company's London office when she graduated, and has worked on projects including the refurbishment of 14 Cornhill in the City of London, Greenwich Millennium Village and the new stadium for Liverpool Football Club at Stanley Park.

In September last year she transferred to the company's 24-strong Winchester office.

"The first project they gave me was Liverpool," she explains. "Since then I've added some small residential and schools projects. I like having a bit of both.

Ann Nolan senior engineer (infrastructure)

Ann Nolan worked in the US for three years after graduating from University College, Dublin, and in 2004 joined Ramboll Whitbybird's London office as an infrastructure engineer.

At that stage the firm was keen to build up its infrastructure portfolio. "There seemed to be so much potential," says Nolan. "The company was getting involved in bigger projects and the infrastructure team was running some of those projects."

Nolan is currently managing the company's multi-disciplinary role in the 16,000m2 Priory Quarter redevelopment in Hastings.

She has also been involved in the 1 million sq ft Goodmans Fields mixed-use development in London's Aldgate.

She enjoys the client-facing part of the job Đ and prefers "overall concepts" and masterplanning to detailed design.

Her next aim is to become an associate. "Because the infrastructure team is growing, we need to maintain the full range of small projects to masterplanning," she explains.

"I would like to get involved more in the masterplanning and large projects and build a multi-disciplinary team to do those projects, with the potential to branch out and have my own team within the civils group."

John Charlton senior engineer (structures)

John Charlton joined Ramboll Whitbybird three years ago when the company was looking to open a new office in Edinburgh. "I suppose it was a big decision, leaving my first job and moving from Bristol to Scotland, but I've never looked back," he says.

The Edinburgh office now has 32 staff, including M&E, geotechnical and structural engineers, and is involved in local and international projects. Charlton Đ now a senior structural engineer - is currently working on a Ferrari-branded theme park on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, due to open next year in time for the F1 Grand Prix.

He describes the scheme as "the most exciting project I've worked on".

Engineers from the firm's London, Birmingham, Bristol and Edinburgh offices are also involved in Yas Island. "That's one thing I like about the company," says Charlton. "They share work between offices, which is a great way to meet other people in the company and build up contacts."

He is also a member of the sustainability task group. "I quickly discovered that the company has these non-heirarchical task groups, which cover different aspects of the business," he explains. "They pull in a cross section of people from London and the regional offices, and we get together every month to share ideas."

Andrew Pigott design engineer (structures)

Andrew Pigott joined the company in 2005 because he wanted to expand his experience of structures.

He is now a design engineer in the 35-strong Manchester office, where his first job as project engineer was on a Ł120M PFI contract for schools and leisure centres in Nottinghamshire.

"I suppose you could say I was thrown in at the deep end," he says. "That sounds harsh but it was really good. With other firms you don't get exposure to all walks of the industry but here everyone is exposed to everything right from the start."

The company has trained him in "everything from telephone manner to the latest Eurocodes". Although he is designing technically challenging buildings, there is always support around him.

Pigott is delivering a 21-storey residential tower as part of the Granary Wharf development in Leeds. Ramboll Whitbybird's London office did the tender design for two blocks on the site, and detailed design and project delivery is split between Manchester and Leeds.

"I've designed the whole thing. I now go to site meetings, liaise with the architect and contractor, and organise production of drawings."


26th In Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For list

17 Ramboll Whitbybird offices

850 Ramboll Whitbybird employees

7,500 Ramboll employees across 160 offices worldwide

Paul Wewer: Finalist in James Rennie Medal, 2008
Paul Steen: Winner of G4C awards and winner of Leadership category 2007
Fat Kee Leung: NCE Graduate Award finalist, 2007
Eddie Jump: G4C winner, 2006

E3 Award for Excellent Engineers working with Education in London, 2008
The Queen's Award for Enterprise: Innovation 2006
Sustainable Designer of the Year, 2006, 2007

CSR projects by employees
Waterloo Library, Sierra Leone
Kabul Hospital, Afghanistan
Rubble House
Village Rebuilding, Costa Rica & El Salvador

3% of annual turnover spent on training
ICE chartership gained two years earlier than industry average
Language and drawing lessons

Additional fact
7% of London office cycle to work


Entrepreneurship and responsibility are encouraged at Ramboll Whitbybird.

1. Oresund Link

The 16 km motorway and railway link between Denmark and Sweden consists of a 4,050m immersed tunnel, a 4,050m artificial island and a 3,9014m bridge. Ramboll was in-house consultant for the client in connection with the design and execution of the link.

2. 51 Lime Street (The Willis Building)

An office development consisting of two towers linked by a double storey basement provides 50,000 sq m of new office space in the City of London. Each tower is a steel frame structure with a central concrete core; the larger is 29 storeys tall and stepped back to create terraces at two levels.3. Bankside 123

Ramboll Whitbybird used 3D modelling to map out existing piles from a previous development on this 3 building mixed use project. This informed the foundation design which includes 52m deep piles and a waterproof basement wall that also supports the superstructure.
4. British Embassy, Sana'a, Yemen

Ramboll Whitbybird was lead consultant for the new British Embassy in Sana'a. The two storey reinforced concrete building houses 1,000m2 of office space. By providing an integrated team they were able to streamline the design process. Winner of LEAF Award, Best Environmentally Sustainable Building of the Year 2007.

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