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Working lives

Martyn Brocklesby, 31 is site investigation contracts manager with Foundation & Exploration Services

Route to the job I graduated in 1992 from the Plymouth University degree course in applied geology. After something in the region of 140 speculative applications, I got a job with Foundation & Exploration Services as a graduate geologist. In the early years of my career I was employed as a nomadic, site based engineer, working first in a junior capacity on contracts including motorway and water authority investigations, before graduating to more senior roles on a number of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link projects. Change has come thick and fast since, with my career developing via a steady progression through the ranks to my current post.

Expectations I graduated at a time when opportunities were limited owing to the depressed nature of the construction industry and I was grateful to secure a post with a well respected independent geotechnical specialist. Had I been asked to detail my expectations then, I would have hoped for, but certainly not expected, to be working with the significant levels of financial and operational responsibility that I currently have.

The reality My job is busy and challenging. I'm responsible for site investigation field activities, managing operations from routine cable percussive boring and rotary coring, to more complex land and marine-based contracts. My work is office based, and I have day-today responsibility for all aspects of project management, together with marketing and integration with the other FES business activities. As a company, we have a comprehensive and varied portfolio of in-house expertise, in disciplines ranging from geotechnical and geoenvironmental engineering, to consultancy, laboratory testing and drilling. More recently the remit has been extended to include work overseas contracts in Ireland, Africa, the Middle East and the South Atlantic.

Although I am sure our efforts are acknowledged and appreciated, I am continually frustrated by the apparently industry-wide assumption that an order placed today guarantees the start of a contract yesterday.

Advice Formal professional qualifications are obviously essential for employers, but training in the more practical aspects of the operations of a profit making organisation are routinely overlooked by technically orientated courses. Individuals should pursue each and every opportunity to understand and develop their skills with regard to working in organisations operating on constrained timescales with slim margins and demanding health and safety responsibilities.

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