Case study

Construction manager — Oliver Jackson

Impressed with Oliver's industry knowledge and transferable skills, his employer is sponsoring him to study part time alongside his job

How did you get your job?

I saw the job advertised online and sent in my CV. I later had telephone interview before being called in for a face-to-face interview, where I was asked about my practical knowledge of the industry and market trends. Since my undergraduate degree was not construction related, I spent a couple of weeks brushing up on my knowledge of the industry.

What's a typical working day as a construction manager like?

My days are extremely varied and I balance my time between site and the office. I typically arrive on site around 6:30am and check the site operatives are up to speed with the aims of the day and week. I then visit other sites and check project progress and that health and safety guidelines are being adhered to. I spend my afternoons completing health and safety paperwork, planning future projects and checking budget spreadsheets.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy the varied nature of my work; my company puts a lot of trust in me and allows me to plan my days as I see fit.

What are the challenges?

The early mornings take some getting used to. Construction requires extremely dynamic and intricate processes. As such, there are often logistical challenges and complexity issues which require pooling together numerous stakeholders.

How relevant are your undergraduate and postgraduate degrees?

My undergraduate degree in petroleum geology taught me to manage numerous projects at the same time. Modules like geophysics developed my numerical ability, which really helps when it comes to drawing up budgets.

I'm currently studying a part-time Masters degree in construction economics and management, funded by my employer. This has helped me hone my skills and exposed me to case study solutions which I can apply to my work every day.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

Since being promoted to my current position, I've become involved with every element of the project rather than just being site-based. I hope to gain some experience working abroad in the future, ideally on the finance team for an infrastructure mega-project.

Any words of advice for someone who wants to get into this job?

Your initial degree doesn't need to be construction focused but I'd recommend studying a STEM subject. These subjects refine your ability to answer questions in an incisive way, which is how you'll need to report to stakeholders. The numerical focus of STEM subjects will also help when writing budgets, which is crucial.

The industry is going through changes with the rise of building information modelling (BIM) and challenges with the Brexit vote. An inquisitive mind will be required to make sure your knowledge remains relevant in the industry.

Construction involves working with numerous stakeholders and sub-contractors, so communication is key. Use any opportunity you can to practise your public speaking.

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