Route to job From early on I knew I wanted to be a maritime civil engineer - I probably spent too much time building sandcastles on the beach.
I went to Brighton Polytechnic in 1986 to do a civil engineering degree and spent a sandwich year working in a design office and on site. After graduating with a BEng, I joined Gibb working on the design of maritime structures, including the Cardiff Bay Barrage.
I later went to Oman to work on the design and site investigation of three fishing harbours.
When I became chartered I wanted a change and saw HR Wallingford as the leader in my chosen field.
Expectations I didn't want to be stuck in an office all the time and wanted to be able to see the product of my work. I also wanted variety - not the same thing every day.
Reality I'm a project manager on 10 to 15 maritime projects at any one time.
This involves the entire project cycle from initial marketing, proposal writing, negotiating and project set-up, to people and budget management. My work often involves site visits to anywhere, from the UK to the Caribbean or Pakistan. The company undertakes a lot of research and this enables me to apply leading edge technology in my work. I deal with a range of technical issues, from solving complex engineering problems to considering environmental impact and managing risk. The more unusual projects at HR include physical model tests for a 1m high plastic collapsible flood barrier, breakwater design for an aquarium and physical model tests of how rain drains off the 150m high Maitreya Budda (NCE 1 February).
Advice A broad experience early on, especially site experience, is essential, even if you want to go into a specialist discipline later. This ensures you include wider aspects, such as buildability, into your research, design or management work.