Route to the job I graduated from Portsmouth Polytechnic in 1985, with a degree in engineering geology and geotechnics. I gained a useful grounding in the practicalities of site investigation with Harrison & Company and then with Southern Testing Laboratories. In 1987 I moved to what was the MRM Partnership and spent seven years working on a wide variety of ground engineering projects, including investigation and design of major highways, contaminated land assessment and foundation design. During this period I became chartered.
I moved to Geotechnics in 1993 and spent five years as regional manager of the firm's south west office, working on a range of site investigation contracts and providing geotechnical consultancy advice on a variety of challenging projects. I took up my present post in 1998.
Expectations Having already worked with Marcus Hodges Environment as a contractor I had a reasonable idea of the likely workload. The firm provides specialist earth science advice to public and private sector clients across the UK and into Europe and Asia. Coming from a background which was more geotechnical than geoenvironmental I expected to have to improve my knowledge of sampling and analysis protocols, contamination analysis and eco-toxicological risk assessment.
The reality My working life offers great variety, ranging from straightforward site assessment to complex geotechnical and environmental projects. Our current workload includes a major rock slope stabilisation scheme, phase one and two environmental assessments, remediation projects including hydrocarbon and chlorinated solvent clean up, and landfill design. With recent legislative changes and the drive to increase brownfield site development, the environmental sector offers tremendous opportunities at the moment . More sophisticated risk assessment techniques and the increasing range of remediation options will allow us to provide better advice to clients, and early involvement in projects should allow us to be more proactive than reactive.
Advice Learn from your own experience and the experience of others. I have been lucky to have had some great mentors in my career so far.
Ground engineering expertise is developed as much by experience as it is by formal training and as such there is no substitute for time spent on the ground. Finally, find a sphere of work which you enjoy.
We spend too much time at work and, let's face it, we are not here simply for financial gain.