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Working lives

Simon Dickson, 34, is a framework manager for consultancy Montgomery Watson Europe, based in Northern Ireland.

Route to the job I graduated in 1991 from the University Of Ulster with a Masters of Engineering (Commendation).

After working in Northern Ireland for a few years I moved to Yorkshire in 1995, at a time of extreme activity on water schemes in the region. Programmes were tight but the rigorous deadlines encouraged the development of new working practices. After a brief time working on contract basis, I moved to Montgomery Watson in 1996 working from the Wakefield office. Eventually I was promoted to principal engineer.

During this time I specialised in project management and soon headed up a team of engineers looking after reservoir schemes in Yorkshire, as well as managing other water and wastewater projects.

Expectations I have always been interested in project management with a view to progressing further towards business management. I have been fortunate to work within a company that encourages self development and allows me to continue to progress in a structured but flexible way. I was curious to return to Northern Ireland, to see how things had changed in the six years since I had left.

The reality As framework manager of a consultancy agreement with the Department for Regional Development Water Service, my responsibilities include client liaison, management, marketing and financial review of projects undertaken. However, my role in Ireland also includes, but is not limited to, project management and integration of Montgomery Watson's business activities. As such I do not have a typical day. I have to be in a position where I can move from project management to responding to business opportunities and development.

The role is largely what I expected it to be. I am glad to see a major move towards investment in the infrastructure of Northern Ireland.

This augers well for both business development and the people of Northern Ireland.

Advice Develop a mix of goals and objectives within three broad categories; client, business and personal. Know the importance of client management, build relationships and understand client needs. For business, appreciate the importance of profit and the bottom line. Also, learn more about the competition and be better and different. Be flexible and adaptable enough to be able to reset your goals when necessary, know your limitations and when to seek advice. Finally, be sure to understand the importance and strength of teamwork.

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