It all started many moons ago in Leeds in January 1982. I left school with A-Levels and responded to an advert for a ‘Trainee Quantity Surveyor’ in the Yorkshire Evening Post, I wasn’t entirely sure what one was! Back then Faithful+Gould was a private practice, I was interviewed by one of the partners and two weeks later I was on the train to Leeds; new suit, shoes polished and ready for my new career.
As a trainee, in amongst site visits with senior colleagues counting bricks and measuring concrete, I recall my talents for fetching lunch, photocopying reports for the Coal Board and taxying senior members of the staff to and from social events.
I was always interested in travelling and after working on many projects in and around Leeds I got my first big break. How did I fancy the Stockton office for three months working on BNFL? Whilst it wasn’t the far-off adventure perhaps I was waiting for, it was a start. I had a quick look on the map and I agreed. I stayed in a hotel during the week and returned home for the weekends; exploring a new place was great.
I was starting to appreciate the benefits of meeting so many new and interesting people whilst travelling with work.
Two years later, I returned to the Leeds Office. Once again, after working on projects around Leeds and the north of England I was given the opportunity to work in Stanlow for three months. Again, I consulted my map and agreed to the job. I was starting to appreciate the benefits of meeting so many new and interesting people whilst travelling with work.
With Stanlow complete, I was next offered a role in Portsmouth. I was seconded to JBE&C for a project that would eventually move to site in Immingham. Portsmouth was great, three of us shared a fantastic house during the week. It was a demanding job as I was the only person on the project, but a great experience. The partners back in Leeds obviously had faith in me and I managed to survive. The project moved up to Immingham to the Lindsey Oil Refinery. Again I realised the benefit of making new friends in new places, many of whom I keep in touch with to this day.
My hard work and willingness to travel soon paid off. I got my first taste of working abroad when I was sent to Leiden, a short train ride away from Amsterdam. I was positioned in the client’s office for a few months providing help and advice around claims and contractual disputes. This was a stimulating and unique experience; living and working in a foreign country with different cultures, lifestyles and ways of working was amazing. Next up was Greece, a prospective gold mine near Mount Olympus and a gorgeous part of the world which ultimately meant that the project stopped at feasibility stage.
A few years later I got a call asking if I was willing to relocate to Canada to work on a refinery expansion project. I have some great memories of living and working in Canada. The job was tough but it is a beautiful country, the people were great and there was a lot of snow! I discovered ice hockey, ice fishing, Moosehead beer amongst other things!
After three years it was time to move on, my preference was somewhere warm and without so much snow! As the Canada project had been run out of the United States, I had made contacts in our Houston office and they asked if I would like to join their growing team. My first venture in the US came with BP on what they called the Holstein Project in the Gulf of Mexico. It was a career opportunity and where my love affair with brisket and sunshine really started! It was at this time that I met Junis my long-term girlfriend who, to this day still supports me and shares our love for life and travel.
After Holstein, the BP team asked if I would be interested in moving onto another of their projects and we were destined for Paris! Très bien we thought, we packed our bags and found a quaint spot in Paris where we would spend the next three years. Whilst my French never really did improve, my love for ‘fromage’, ‘jambon’ and all things Français thrived. As well as the tremendous experience of living and working in Paris, I was fortunate to spend quite a lot of time visiting Norway and Angola which were certainly eye openers.
My next move was to Singapore. I can remember landing at Singapore airport and it was like walking into a sauna! In my younger days I had travelled around Asia a fair bit and loved it; to live and work in Singapore was the dream assignment. Singapore is a fantastic place to live, it is so clean and safe; a melting pot for so many different cultures. The project was a great and memorable experience and again I was fortunate to meet and befriend so many amazing people.
It’s been a very interesting and fulfilling journey and we are fortunate to have had the opportunity to experience so many diverse cultures, places and meet so many great and memorable people along the way.
Unfortunately, as with all good things, they do come to an end and Brazil beckoned and a new client - Michelin. I was finally heading off to Rio! Since my early memories of Zico and Pele in the world cup, Rio had always been on my list of places to go so it was not a particularly difficult decision. The work in Brazil was interesting, but of all the places I have worked Rio was the one place that I never really settled in. After the project finished, it was back to Houston and more brisket.
I have now come full circle. An opportunity arose with BP back in the UK and so here I am, living and working in Surrey through our Epsom office.
It’s difficult to cram so many great experiences and memories into a few pages, but I hope reading this gives you just a taste that may encourage you to take the opportunities to travel and work abroad. For Junis and I, it’s been a very interesting and fulfilling journey and we are fortunate to have had the opportunity to experience so many diverse cultures, places and meet so many great and memorable people along the way.
I wonder where is next?