I must confess, I did not enter the graduate scheme fresh from university. I spent three years working for contractors in Ireland through difficult economic climates, and prior to this, I spent time in the financial sector, which was related to my first degree. Joining Faithful+Gould, however, was definitely the pivotal moment for me. Moving into the consultancy environment and finding myself immersed in the buzz and diversity of the company made me feel at home. I moved to London from a small town in Northern Ireland, and with little or no social network, I threw myself into Faithful+Gould life. Drinks after work, playing football and touch rugby provided some welcome entertainment away from the desk where I have made some genuine lifelong friends. I joined the scheme with four other like-minded guys and we introduced ourselves to the wider region by winning the annual quiz and upsetting the reigning champions. The biggest reward of that victory was an invite to support a Faithful+Gould team at an Overby hosted quiz with lots of industry people in attendance and some senior Faithful+Gould colleagues, who were happy to let their hair down, which was very entertaining.
I had great mentorship and support in my team, with some of my colleagues really investing a lot of time and effort into me and my development.
Back to business though - I was adapting to the consultancy environment and generally throwing myself into every opportunity I could. I wanted to be involved with everything as there were so many exciting projects around me! The first big project I worked on was a High Speed rail study for the Norwegian equivalent to Network Rail. This was an international delivery team from Atkins including a multitude of disciplines and there were at least four from the London and South East Infrastructure team involved in building the cost models and running various scenarios for High Speed routes from Oslo in all directions. I experienced my first client presentation on this project, and I remember walking away from it with a high and a great sense of pride at the positive feedback that our team achieved. That feeling is something I strive for everyday now, so it is safe to say that project has had a big impact on me.
I moved on to smaller post contract schemes, where I gained more site experience and saw some of the projects come to life in front of me. I had great mentorship and support in my team, with some of my colleagues really investing a lot of time and effort into me and my development. This is something that sticks in my mind about this time in my career and makes me feel that I owe it to my colleagues to pay that investment back. At this time, I was seeking opportunities for more responsibility and wanted to push my career forward. While I was progressing on the route to chartership I made the decision to leave Faithful+Gould for a smaller consultancy.
I enjoyed the experience I gained at a smaller consultancy and the autonomy to chase the work I was interested in as well as the exposure to different projects and environments. Most of all, I began to get involved with financial management of the business and taking responsibility for operational matters – which seemed natural for a Quantity Surveyor in a company of engineers! I used this experience to drive my chartership forward and sat my APC in 2014. At the time, people around me were telling me I didn’t need the APC because of the roles, sector and experience I had, but I think that was always something I wanted to achieve and the Faithful+Gould graduate scheme really instilled that desire in me. So, while I am not officially one of the Faithful+Gould LSE statistics, I recognise the value that Faithful+Gould gave me in preparation for chartership.
I now see the opportunities that I felt were not available to me at the time of leaving, in front of my junior colleagues, which makes me feel proud to have been part of that reform within our team. As we see growth and success as a company, more and more opportunity presents itself for people to step up, no matter what their experience or grade is.
I didn’t stay away from F+G for long though, and I came ‘home’ at the first opportunity when I discovered some of the changes that were happening with my old team. I was offered a secondment role as the lead estimator on Transport for London’s (TfL) Deep Tube Upgrade Programme. This is a £16bn upgrade programme across four of the tube lines procuring new trains, state of the art signalling and supporting infrastructure – all delivered on an operational railway in an extremely political environment. Fair to say that learning curve was about as steep as they come! Every day I felt out of my comfort zone but I just kept trying to do a good job, build relationships with those around me with a very clear target of what I wanted to achieve for Faithful+Gould and myself.
That attitude paid off and soon we won a large commission through competition with the top companies in our sector, securing a long term, multimillion pound commission that continues to grow to this day - over four years later. I managed to secure a place on the Faithful+Gould Management Development Programme (MDP), where I gained more exposure across the business and met colleagues from around the UK while we developed our skills away from technical delivery. Developing these skills, proving my worth with clients has led to results-based promotions, and with each step I have been presented with opportunities to grow and develop.
I have made plenty of mistakes along the way, and I am sure I will make many more, but I recover and learn from these situations which is one of the most important lessons to learn. I have always put my hand up to get involved in whatever I could from day one, and I still push myself on a daily basis to try something different and improve the environment around me.
Faithful+Gould is a fantastic environment to learn your trade and have some fun along the way, throw yourself into it and it will reward you.