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Working lives

Matthew Young, 32, is innovation manager with Raynesway Construction Southern, a subsidiary of Balfour Beatty. RCS carries out highway, road and street lighting maintenance for the Highways Agency and county councils, and off-track maintenance for rail maintenance contractors.

Route to job I graduated in 1990 with a civil engineering degree from Portsmouth University and went straight out to Hong Kong with Scott Wilson Kirkpatrick.

I had previously worked for Balfour Beatty as an undergraduate, and I was very grateful to the company for subsequently keeping my job open until I returned.

I have worked on a number of large civil engineering projects including Barking power station in east London, where I was a site engineer, and Heathrow Express, on which I was temporary works designer.

As part of a move within Balfour Beatty towards a new and better way of doing things, I was trained as a process engineer, which attracted me to the role of innovation manager within RCS. I am now a chartered civil engineer working in a managerial role, co-ordinating research and development into new methods and processes for carrying out term maintenance.

Expectations The construction industry I see as being similar to the services.

Construction provides good training, an outdoor life, travel and working in physical extremes. It requires people to react well under pressure, provides the opportunity to work with many different types of people, and is a job that could never be replaced by a computer.

Reality Construction has changed a lot since I graduated. The emphasis has moved from needing to be commercially expert to being able to form co-operative relationships with clients, subcontractors and suppliers. This is certainly a change for the better and leads to a better product, better value for money and an increased return for all parties.

The maintenance of our roads and highways has a higher profile now the motorway network is substantially complete. The priorities are to improve safety for the road user and to prevent congestion. We are seeing a revolution in the way maintenance is sourced and carried out. As innovation manager I am involved with some of the most groundbreaking efforts to deliver maintenance.

Advice Work hard, do not be shy to volunteer and identify your own personal goals. It is only through doing an activity that you can know whether you will enjoy it. By succeeding, your confidence will increase generally. I have found having a mentor very useful for advice and guidance. Aim high, and you never know what you might achieve.

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