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Member of the Month
Gary Neill IEng FIHE
- Thursday December 31, 2020
Gary is Area Road Engineer for Falkirk Council
What inspired you to become an engineer or pointed you towards an engineering career?
I always enjoyed maths at school and problem solving. Prior to training to be an engineer I was at college doing architecture (shhh!). However, I was lucky enough to apply for a trainee scheme with Falkirk Council in civil engineering where I would learn at college and on the job.
What made you join the IHE?
I joined as a student member around 10 years ago when I began to look to professional registration through the Engineering Council. The best institute for me was the IHE as its most relevant to my line of work.
Can you describe a typical working day?
A typical day usually starts with getting woken up by a screaming toddler around 5am, then off the gym and settled down to my office desk (now at home) around 8.30/8.45. After that it is hard to define, even more so now. However, it usually involves checking in with staff and supporting them with the various ongoing projects. It also includes a host of tasks such as ensuring capital and revenue budgets are managed; ensuring performance targets are met; attendance at meetings; ensuring health and safety requirements are met; ensuring the department adheres to legislation and dealing with industrial and human resource management (not all at once). I love being busy, and I’m currently undertaking a Business Management degree at Strathclyde University.
Are there any particular challenges or unusual aspects to your role?
Obviously, COVID has presented challenges to how our services are delivered on behalf of our constituents. Working from home, for example, presents practical challenges for managers.
What do you find most enjoyable about your job?
Working in the public sector. It is very satisfying making a difference to the communities we serve. I take great pride in seeing our projects through to completion and the positive impact that it
makes. I really enjoy solving problems and delivering solutions, especially on the drainage side of our job. I also really enjoy the fastpaced nature of the role.
Is there a great professional achievement or high-profile accomplishment that you would like to tell us about?
At university, I (our team) won a prize in the structural design competition and our design represented the university at the national competition. I also recently became the chair of the Scottish Branch Committee of the IHE.
What contributed to your decision to become professionally registered?
To me, it was the next logical progression in my career and my goals – as is working towards CEng now. The support and mentorship from colleagues through the process was also a factor.
In what ways has registration benefited your career?
It has made me a more confident practitioner and given me more credibility as an engineer.
How does your employer benefit from your professional registration?
My employer really does invest in upskilling its people and by mentoring me and others they get better engineers, as well as proving the competency of their staff.
Is there any advice you would pass on to someone considering professional registration?
It’s not as daunting as you may think. Just start! The reward is worth it.
Given the current economic and environmental climate, what do you consider the biggest challenges facing the highways and transportation industry?
The biggest challenge we face in the industry and the country as a whole is the dynamic situation that is COVID-19 and its impact, how its managed, and how our assets are actually used or possibly repurposed to meet users’ needs.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
I am currently in the process of compiling my CEng application and I’d like to think that in five years I will have attained this. Studying business management will be very useful for my career aspirations as well I hope, and will complement my engineering degree.
Do you participate in any other career-related activities, such as mentoring, volunteering or membership of other engineering groups?
I am the chair of the Scottish Branch of the IHE and regularly provide technical events for our members. I am on the national Council too and active within the professional development portfolio group, which is responsible for the professional certificates and diplomas the institute offers. I am also a reviewer at IEng level for the institute.
Outside work, is there any activity you enjoy doing in your spare time personally and/ or professionally?
I am a keen musician and have played in bands since my teens. I also love watching football.