Mark Brown

Mark Brown

What is the name of the company you work for and what do they do?

I work for Ringway/Eurovia (part of the Vinci group), one of the leading providers of highway services in the UK. We currently operate a number of highway maintenance contracts across the country, including the North Yorkshire contract where I have been stationed.

What is your role within the company?

Throughout my internship I have been fulfilling the role of a GMU agent. The GMU's are our general maintenance units, two man gangs who complete maintenance on the road network. The gangs complete a wide variety of works including filling in potholes, replacing damaged iron work or completing drainage investigations. They also have to respond to any callouts we might have including, oil/diesel spills, providing road closures for road traffic accidents, or removing fallen trees. My job is to ensure the operatives have everything necessary to complete the works safely and effectively. This includes completing requisitions for any materials/subcontractors/hired equipment I might require, then costing it when it arrives (or the subcontractor's work has been completed). I collate the timesheets for my operatives and cost them to the jobs. Once I have costed everything I create a monthly valuation which I send to the client to claim the value for the works we have carried out. Once the value has been agreed, I claim it through our linked systems and then update the budget - comparing the cost for the month's work to the value claimed to show what profit I have made for the company. As a rough estimate I think I've been responsible for >£600,000 worth of turnover across the year.

Can you please give me an insight into a typical day?

I typically get into work at 07.00 ready for a final check that my gangs will be able to complete the work I have set for them for the day, the main problem that can occur is if the weather is worse than predicted, in which case I would need to quickly find alternative wet weather work. The operatives start work at 07.30 at which point I brief them on the day's jobs and give them the paper work they need to be able to complete them. I will then stay out in the yard until the last gang has loaded up and left the depot which should occur before 08.00. This is so that I can respond to any queries and sort out any potential issues, whilst also making sure the gangs get out of the depot on time. Until the gangs start to return at about 16.00, the rest of the day is split between a wide variety of tasks. This includes the cost/value mentioned above along with any site inspections/quality checks or setting out advance notice boards or occasionally completing letter drops for road closures.

What are you enjoying the most and are you involved in any interesting projects?

By far the most enjoyable and surprising aspect of my work is the amount of independence I have. I usually have 6-10 operatives (plus any subcontractors) who work for me and me alone. They are solely my responsibility. If they have any problems I have to sort it out, and if they need anything they come to me. This was a fantastic learning opportunity where I had to face the challenges and resolve them.

Another very important part for me is just the sheer variety of work I carry out. Driving to work in the morning I could never be sure what I would be doing for the day, I always had tasks that needed completing but then something would crop up and I'd have to dash out onsite for example. I would constantly be on the phone organising one thing or another. It is a very dynamic role.

Why did you want to undertake a year in industry?

I wanted to be more confident that when I picked a graduate job I would want to stay long term. I had no idea which of the many different branches of Civil Engineering I wanted to dedicate myself to. This year in industry allowed me to take an in depth 'no strings attached' look at the contracting side of the business, so now I will be able to make a more informed choice for future job applications.

What are you hoping to get out of this experience? 

I aim to gain a broad knowledge of the different aspects of the contracting side of the industry, along with greatly increased organisational and management skills. Also, being in work by 7 o'clock should make 9 o'clock lectures seem like a dream.

Do you have any tips and advice to current students thinking of undertaking a year in industry?

Make sure you're passionate about every job you apply for, otherwise you're just wasting everybody's time. The location of the job can also make a huge difference to general enjoyment.