Philip Norville, 28, is a project consultant, working in technical sales for landscape, building and drainage materials manufacturer Marshalls.
Route to the job Having graduated from Salford University with an honours degree in civil engineering, I started with Edmund Nuttall in London as a site engineer. A key reason for joining Nuttalls was the opportunity it offered to become chartered.
During my five years with Nuttalls I worked on a wide range of projects and under a variety of contractual conditions, including two years working on the remediation of the Greenwich peninsula ahead of construction of the Millennium Dome. I then spent 15 months seconded to WS Atkins, working in their water and industry departments on structural asset management schemes for water authorities. Having signed off my training agreement and while preparing for my professional review I started to think about a career change. The chance of working for a well known and respected firm such as Marshalls greatly appealed.
Expectations I expected the job to be varied, interesting and challenging, and that my experience as a civil engineer would provide me with a good grounding for a career in technical sales. I was convinced that it would be easy getting in to see clients.
The reality I soon found that developing good relationships with clients and educating people about Marshalls product and technical services is a key part of my job. Having been with the company for nearly two years I have established my own 'patch', covering central and east London. My role involves meeting and developing good working relationships with specifiers, including architects, engineers, QS's and clients. As a qualified civil engineer, I also provide design, technical and buildability information on larger and more involved schemes.
I find myself spending more and more time providing clients with updated literature and material samples. I also organise and copresent CPD seminars.
Advice I would recommend getting chartered or gaining other professional qualifications before considering a move into sales.
If the move does not suit you, then it is easier to return to your previous career. Also, professional qualifications inspire confidence in others and mark you out as someone who can offer worthwhile advice and practical solutions.
I also recommend joining a forward thinking employer that is committed to supporting its employees' continuing development and further education.