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Working lives

'Manchester man about town' is how Brian Clancy describes himself. Now 62, he operates as a sole practitioner and finds his engineering skills are still in demand.

Route to the job Modest degree from a good college - UCL - probably spent too much time on student affairs.

Trained at Oscar Faber and CS Allott & Son - both firms now in new lives! Qualified ICE & IStructE - in my view you need both. These excellent firms taught me not just civil and structural engineering, but also about project and people management. I also learnt about being prepared to 'become involved', to try and see the larger picture, to understand what the risks are, to accept them and to make decisions. I must admit that most of this was not structured training but 'heat of battle' stuff - it probably suited my character better than any form of more conventional training. Both firms were also heavily committed to professional institution/ association involvement - so blame them!

I started my own firm with another in 1969, but did not like its direction, so resigned and started again in 1972. Resigned again (it must be a weakness! ) in 1999 - pleased with what we achieved but it seemed that I did not fit in any more.

I had the honour to be president of the IStructE (1996) and chairman of the ACE in 2000. I did some bits for the ICE and would liked to have done more - but one cannot do everything. I have been a local authority councillor, magistrate and governor/chairman of numerous schools. Now I am vice chairman of UMIST council and visiting professor at Liverpool John Moores University Expectations I am a sole practitioner (again) and, amazingly, I seem to be in some demand. Life is a people business and I like to be involved and see people get results - especially the right ones! I never had any burning ambition other than to try to 'get it right'. At present I am heavily involved with the feasibility study for the UMIST/Manchester University merger.

I am also a non executive director/consultant/chairman of four other companies - rent a chairman (or a mouth! ). I have been fortunate to have a wide experience in numerous fields and sometimes others think that this helps.

Reality As above, but it is working. I earn my modest salary target - who trusts a pension fund or any investment these days? Material goods can always be stolen! I really am seeing some benefits of my various involvements: of course I try to be with good teams - it makes all the difference. But I know that one day my team mates will suggest that I play a little more golf or go on a long painting holiday - and I hope that when it happens I will recognise that it is good advice honestly given.

Advice Surround yourself with people who are competent, hard working and honest, but do not be surprised if over time some of them change their character - especially if money, personal ambition, or domestic difficulties intervene. Give them their heads, but try (for your mutual benefit) to avoid allowing temptation to get in their way - they may not be able to resist it.

But if in doubt, try to give them the benefit of it, as I said life is a people business.

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