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Member of the Month
Alex Davies BSc (Hons) EngTech MIHE
- Wednesday February 16, 2022
Technician – Cheshire East Highways / Ringway Jacobs
What inspired you to start a career in engineering?
I suppose my real interest kicked in when I was about seven years old when we had the house extended. From then on I’ve had a profound interest in knowing how things are built and wanting
to be involved in construction works. It was only after I read up on projects and began my apprenticeship at my former employer that I found I enjoyed the design aspect of projects more.
Midway through studying for my university degree, I heard of vacancies with the local highways business, Ringway Jacobs. I leapt at the opportunity and applied for a technician post in the design
What made you join the IHE?
There were discussions at university about which institutions might best suit my career path. Once I spoke to my line manager at work, I became aware of the IHE and what it had to offer. I joined the IHE as a member initially, and as soon as I was able to I looked into progressing myself to EngTech level.
In what ways has professional registration benefited your career?
It provides me with a path for career advancement and has given me a greater drive to keep pushing for my goals. I am contributing positively to the reputation of my employer within the wider
highways contract as I am able to show that I am committed to upholding professional standards.
Is there any advice you would pass on to someone considering professional registration?
First of all, get that CPD together. Then, consider what works you have been involved in over the course of your career so far. Make a list and then review the IHE criteria relevant to your level of registration. Break down the work you have done into every item and task you had to do to get to the final outcome. Think of it as similar to taking a car engine apart and laying it all out on the
ground in front of you, piece by piece. Note down every decision and every reason for those decisions. Be thorough, take your time, be clear and concise, but most of all, be confident in yourself and always ask questions if you are unsure.
Describe your role within your workplace.
I was a technician within both the traffic and capital design teams within Cheshire East Highways (CEH). Following a rotation in November 2020, I now currently operate as a technician within the CEH road safety team, which I thoroughly enjoy. The role primarily involves me managing my own projects from initial identification via collision cluster analysis, proposal design stage, right
through to final scheme implementation on site. Additionally, I undertake the preparation of preconstruction information packs. This primarily includes assessing the associated site risks and utility service risks and offering recommendations to overcome these. This is undertaken while I also provide recommendations for the nature of traffic management that should be used when carrying out the works. Other responsibilities include the management of associated scheme finances, and liaising with affected stakeholders and the wider supply chain partners.
Can you describe a typical working day?
I always like to start by going through the ‘To Do list’ and my emails as I find it helps me to organise my day within at least the first half hour of logging on. Then I focus on any urgent tasks that need attending. After that, I tend to get a good rhythm going with my work. The key I have found is setting achievable goals initially, no matter how small.
Are there any particular challenges or unusual aspects to your role?
Every job has its challenges. Most recently I have been involved with the Department for Transport Safer Roads Scheme on the A536. This scheme involves various elements of work, including installing average speed cameras along its length. This has proven to be a challenge for me, mainly because I have never been involved in a scheme quite like this in terms of size and the various elements.
What do you find most enjoyable about your job?
The variety of work and the people I work with. I also enjoy actually seeing the work get delivered as this is a rewarding feeling but also the chance to see how the work is done.
Is there a professional accomplishment that you would like to tell us about?
My biggest achievements are my First Class Honours degree in construction management in 2019 and my EngTech accreditation with the IHE. Both of these have given me confidence at work and in my personal life. As a young kid, I never had much confidence in school to push myself as I was highly doubtful that I would ever achieve a degree, let alone a first, so to be able to attain this was a massive achievement.
What do you consider the biggest challenges facing the highways and transportation industry?
Of course, the most noticeable challenges are the rapid decarbonisation of our industry and the fiscal constraints thrown at us from the pandemic, which has not ended. There is also the added
effect of a mass skill shortage across multiple industries. I believe this is the prime opportunity for us to grow new and fresh talent in the form of apprenticeships. We need to engage more with academic institutions. The mental health of our workforce is also a further challenge that can impact the industry in a wide variety of ways. I believe this will remain a long-standing challenge for years to come following the effects of the pandemic.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
I’d like to think that I could have achieved my IEng accreditation. Also, I would like to be building on my knowledge in road safety while actively being involved in the auditing process. Within five years I would also like to be an engineer within the road safety ream. However, my focus at the moment is to become an assistant engineer. Long-term, I hope that I can one day become a chartered member of the IHE, and operate as a team leader or manager within CEH.
What do you like about the highways industry and what would you like to see change?
I love the variety of work that you can get involved in, and the challenges that the different workstreams can present. I also like the fact that what we all do in the industry never goes unnoticed,
in the sense that our work is critical. I feel that overall industry communication with the public about our work could improve, as there are quite often misunderstandings that could be dealt with through better communication.