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Working lives

Matt Hood, 28, is the web development manager at Geoffrey Osborne.

Route to the job In 1991 I won a scholarship from Osborne and started my MEng in civil engineering at the University of Surrey. I worked for Osborne during holidays and my industrial year, before joining them as a graduate engineer in 1996.

Since then, I have been given some very challenging work, including designing temporary works and writing the associated method statements for the construction of a baggage handling tunnel and platform realignment for the Heathrow Express at Paddington station.

To gain design experience I worked with Mott MacDonald's bridges department in 1998 and 1999. This included writing the contract documents for a £6.5M design and build bridge replacement on the East Coast Main Line.

As a member of Osborne's group development team - people from across the Osborne Group charged with helping to improve the business - I co-proposed building an intranet to help improve internal communications.

After selling the concept to the board, I project managed a pilot, supposedly on temporary secondment. However I enjoyed it so much I decided to make it a permanent move, and joined the IT department in March 2000.

Expectations I have been interested in IT since the introduction of personal computers back in the 1980s. I am proud of the fact that I am entirely self taught and that, in a fairly short space of time, I have learnt a tremendous amount through on the job training. However, I am identifying formal training so I can put this knowledge and experience into some sort of context and really develop my technical skills.

The reality Implementation of the intranet has been difficult for a number of reasons - partly technical but mainly cultural. It is understandably difficult for many people to switch overnight from a paper based system to an electronic one. The intranet is still at the 'nice to have' stage but it is gradually becoming essential.

I feel that it has been prudent to grow the intranet gradually.

In the early stages there was not a great deal of content available, but now the system is becoming more useful. I prefer to concentrate on areas that are important to the business and where the people involved are willing to put effort into changing the way they do things.

I have also been working on the redevelopment of our website (www. osborne. co. uk - available in the summer), the implementation of pilot project extranets on two of our large building contracts and the possible introduction of a company wide electronic document management system.

Advice The best advice I can offer is to find something you enjoy doing and get people to pay you to do it!

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