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Carl Skelton
CEng FIHE

Group Manager, Highway Maintenance Services, East Riding of Yorkshire Council

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Carl is group manager for highway maintenance services at East Riding of Yorkshire Council. He is responsible for dayto-day highway maintenance of the council’s 3,550km network, including frontline operational staff, area engineering teams and environmental highway enforcement

What inspired you to become an engineer?

Probably my dad, who is a retired mechanic. He certainly influenced me in terms of being technically minded with an interest in finding out how things work, how things can be fixed and how things can be made better. I have also got a keen interest in all things DIY and how things are built from him, which attracted me to the opportunities in civil engineering.

Can you describe a typical working day?

If only! It’s a very varied role. In among the usual emails, meetings and responsibility for around 130 staff, I can be working on maintenance or income budgets, looking at a new maintenance process or piece of plant that could save us money, planning future funding bids, or our response to flooding, all in the same day.

Are there any particular challenges or unusual aspects to your role?

There are many challenges associated with managing the maintenance of a large rural network. Having said that, I face the same challenges as most managers in similar roles across the country. I do often find it fascinating that we are all essentially trying to achieve the same thing across the UK’s 240,000 miles of local highway network, but all within different staffing structures, political
structures, funding and contract arrangements. Essentially we are trying to keep an ageing network safe and serviceable for highways users, with limited resources and increasing use and expectations.

Tell us about some of your career highlights

During recent years I’ve been involved in planning and managing highway operations and traffic aspects of large scale public events, including the UCI World Cycling Championships held in Yorkshire last year, the BBC Radio One Big Weekend in 2017 and the Tour de Yorkshire Cycle Race each year since 2015. Being part of creating successful events for fans and experiencing their enjoyment is really rewarding, as is the huge feeling of relief once a successful event is over.

Why did you join the IHE?

I joined what was called SCET (Society of Civil Engineering Technicans) many, many years ago. Then I joined the IHIE (as it was known) as a student and progressed to member level. I joined the IHE because I felt it represented the highway engineering genre of civil engineering best. I think being part of an organisation sharing relevant information across the sector is important. I’ve been lucky enough to work with a number of professionally registered engineers in the early part of my career who certainly influenced my progress and passed on their knowledge. This recognition in
our relatively specialist area was important to me.

Is there any advice you would pass on to someone considering professional registration?

Try to set a goal date and go for it. We all have other pressures in life but you do need to set aside some time. Also, try to find someone who achieved registration already as they can share their experience and tips as well as check your submission, presentation etc. Guidance is always available from the IHE too.

Do you participate in any other career-related activities?

I’m a council member of the IHE and lead on the professional development portfolio. I chair the Northern Direct Managers Group and also sit on the ADEPT Engineering Board, I’m also involved in a local charity as a trustee. I mentor staff within my organisation looking to gain professional registration and have also begun to review chartered engineer applicants in my field on behalf of the IHE.

Richard Harman
IEng FIHE

Engineering Services Lead, Berrys

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Richard is the engineering services lead for Berrys – a land, property and planning consultancy. His work involves supporting the delivery of developments, both through the planning process and for the back-end design of new highway and drainage infrastructure.

What inspired you to become an engineer?

My father is a mechanical engineer and during my childhood I always took interest in his job designing and building car production lines; I always remember thinking how cool it was that my dad worked with robots. I originally wanted to go into automotive or motorsport engineering, but it was my father who encouraged me to pursue a career in civil engineering due to the stability of the industry. Seventeen years on I still have no regrets and am thankful for his good advice.

Can you describe a typical working day?

The day will normally start off with dealing with a few emails and updating clients on project progress, as well as talking through the workload priorities with the team. I’ll then focus on my own project work, which could be anything from writing a transport statement, designing a new access road, through to carrying out flood risk assessments and designing SuDS and foul drainage schemes. Our workload is very varied, so we have to be adaptable.

Are there any particular challenges or unusual aspects to your role?

Given we’re a smaller consultancy, we have to carry out many roles. As the service lead I am responsible for managing the team finances and invoicing, writing project scopes, meeting potential clients as well as looking after our existing clients, managing compliance and welfare and finding the time to actually deliver projects.

Tell us about a professional achievement

I previously worked at WSP on the Shropshire Council term contract and during that time I was the design lead for a large package of public realm enhancement schemes in Shrewsbury town centre, including the main pedestrianised shopping street, Pride Hill. We’d completed the design of the package prior to my move to Berrys and the schemes are still being built today. It’s satisfying to see my previous work coming to fruition in my home town.

Why did you join the IHE?

I’ve spent much of my career working in road safety and traffic engineering, which I feel are very well represented by the IHE. Previously I’d been a member of both the ICE and the CIHT, but I didn’t feel our area of the industry was as well represented by the other organisations. So I joined the IHE in 2008 with a view to working towards Incorporated Engineer status via the individual route, which I eventually completed in 2018.

In what ways has registration benefited your career?

I’ve been able to move from a senior engineer position to where I am now – responsible for starting and growing a new engineering service. My move to Berrys would not have been possible without being registered.

Is there any advice you would pass on to someone considering professional registration?

It’s easy to get in the mindset that you have a mountain to climb when starting out, but it’s not as much work as you think. I’d urge people to get in touch with their local IHE branch and/or the main IHE team for advice, as there’s a lot of help out there. Once you start work on your submission, it really does start to feel much more straightforward.

What do you like doing in your spare time?

I spend a lot of time out walking with my wife, Hannah, and our dog, Betty. Music plays a big part in my life and I’ve been a DJ since my teenage years. I play a number of venues around Shrewsbury. The biggest draw on my time is probably my involvement in motor racing, as my childhood best friend James and I race together with the Classic Sports Car Club. We both have cars we’ve self-prepared and we do a handful events each year and have even raced at SpaFrancorchamps, which was a huge ‘pinch me’ moment for both of us.

Do you participate in any other careerrelated activities, such as mentoring or volunteering?

I’m presently the chair of the IHE Mercia Branch so I’m actively involved with arranging CPD events and our annual awards evening in the West Midlands. I also mentor a number of people for IEng. I’ve previously been a STEM Ambassador and have worked with quite a few schools around Shropshire to offer careers advice and to inspire our next generation of young engineers, but unfortunately, I struggle to find the time for this at present. I also enjoy speaking at conferences to deliver training to other professionals.

Katharine Kelly
CEng FIHE

Principal Engineer, Highways Team, Jacobs

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Katharine is a principal engineer within the highways team of Jacob’s Glasgow office, alongside around 150 others. She is the resource manager for around 70 people, direct line manager for seven and is responsible for overseeing the technical traffic sign and road marking design on major highway schemes.

What inspired you to become an engineer?

At school I enjoyed maths and sciences but didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do for a career. I was advised to study Civil Engineering as it was a good broad degree, which would give me lots of opportunities and options for careers once I graduated, which has definitely turned out to be the case.

Can you describe a typical working day?

A typical working day starts with dropping my two daughters off at primary school, before jumping on the bus into town. I’m lucky to have a really easy commute to the office and I tend to arrive just after 9am. I’m currently working with a design team in Calcutta so mornings will be spent on Skype meetings going over design issues and getting project updates. Then after lunch I’ll probably try and focus on report writing or answering emails. This week I am having goal setting meetings with my team so will sit down for one-to-ones between 4.30pm and 6pm.

Are there any particular challenges or unusual aspects to your role?

I’m the resourcing manager for around 70 members of the highways team and this role brings me the most challenges; keeping everyone busy (but not overloaded) while providing a variety of design work for graduates and those working towards professional review. Ensuring that people get the chance to do some on-the-job training can be really tricky, but very rewarding.

Tell us about a professional achievement

My claim to fame is that I designed the signs for Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games – around 800 bright pink signs that directed athletes, officials and dignitaries between venues. I even managed to keep hold of one afterwards – it’s currently hanging in my kitchen.

Why did you join the IHE?

It was the IHE’s approach to getting chartered, which appealed to me, as did the opportunity to specialise in different highway design elements (traffic signs, in my case). I joined as a member in 2017 and immediately set about preparing my portfolio for professional review, for which I received lots of help and encouragement from the local branch.

What contributed to your decision to become professionally registered?

I was carrying out a performance review for an apprentice and he started asking me about which professional body he should join and what would be his best route to getting qualifications. It was a bit of a lightning bolt moment for me; people had been nagging me to get chartered for years but it wasn’t until I was trying to help someone else on that journey that I realised it would be a huge advantage to be able to speak from experience. I signed up to the IHE that night and went along to a branch event a couple of weeks later.

In what ways has registration benefited your career?

I was promoted, given a pay rise and made a team leader. Being chartered has allowed me to work in more senior roles for clients who can demand professionally qualified employees. Becoming a team leader was a huge deal for me as I’ve always enjoyed helping others in their careers, and watching others grow in their roles is really rewarding.

Is there any advice you would pass on to someone considering professional registration?

Just bite the bullet and go for it. You have nothing to lose and so much to gain. Find yourself a mentor who can coach you through the process and prepare to spend a couple of months working late to gather evidence for your portfolio. If you don’t know where to start, pick the easy things like gathering CPD logs and updating your CV.

Given the current economic and environmental climate, what do you consider the biggest challenges facing the highways and transportation industry

I think we need to be looking at more innovative ways of working with our existing infrastructure to allow it to operate more flexibly and efficiently. We may not be able to build as many new roads as we have in the past, but the skills of highways and transportation professionals will be even more in demand to enhance the operation of our current networks, making them safer and increasing integration between different travel modes.

Craig Roberts
CEng FIHE

Senior Product and Application Technology Manager, Tensar International

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Craig is the senior product and application technology manager at Tensar International Ltd. His primary role is to act as both technical and product lead for Tensar’s uniaxial geogrids, which are used to form reinforced soil retaining walls and slopes for use in many sectors, including highways and rail. His job is to help colleagues and engineers to understand the long-established benefits of using such geogrids, which are proven through research and practice to deliver significant savings in terms of carbon footprint, time and money.

What inspired you to become an engineer?

My answer is similar to most engineers. I always wanted to build, break, and fix things from a very young age. As I got older, I wanted to learn how to design and build things safely, so they didn’t break, and I didn’t have to fix them (as I often had to). As I progressed through school and higher education, I decided I wanted a career in engineering.

Can you describe a typical working day?

That’s difficult but five words probably sum a typical day up enjoyable, rewarding, varied, fast and challenging.

Are there any particular challenges or unusual aspects to your role?

The biggest challenge I often come across is getting commercial people at contractors to understand how using geosynthetics on highways delivers savings and that it is not just about reading a line item on a bill of quantities – they need to consider other factors. For example, the cost of a geogrid can be more than offset by the reduction in aggregate required, with the added benefits of reducing the programme, the number of delivery vehicles and whole project carbon savings. Unusual? I suppose working on projects in Wolfsberg, Warsaw and Wigan at the same time may seem unusual to some people.

What do you find most enjoyable about your job?

I have always enjoyed both learning new things, which happens pretty much on a daily basis, and also training and teaching others about subjects I have some knowledge on.

Why did you join the IHE?

I wanted to be associated with a body that aligned with my career, and even though my current role includes more than highways, it felt like it was the right fit. I joined around 12 years ago at the FIHE level.

Is there a professional achievement that you would like to tell us about?

I have two. I was really proud to become a chartered engineer (it was a career goal) and to become the UK registered ground engineering professional.

In what ways has professional registration benefited your career?

It has allowed me to keep moving forward within Tensar. Registration of employees gives Tensar greater credibility. I am also encouraged to pass on my knowledge and give support to less experienced engineers, which I am more than happy to do.

Is there any advice you would pass on to someone considering professional registration?

Just do it! You should see it as part of your natural career path, not an extra. It guides you to becoming a better all-round engineer/technician and encourages you to look at your strengths and weaknesses, and where you need to focus on improvements. I would add that it is also important to set yourself further challenges once the process is complete, it can leave you with a strange feeling of ‘what now?’ after the hard work has been done. Given the current economic and environmental climate, what do you consider the biggest challenges facing the highways and transportation industry 2020 is becoming a year that will never be forgotten. The UK construction industry is robust enough to bounce back, but there will be bumps and obstacles along the way that we will have to overcome together. It will be even more important in the future for our industry to work together to identify smart ways of working, and also to identify how to use our natural resources in ways that give best value for money and minimise our impact on the environment. In terms of projects, HS2 will not only bring benefits to the rail sector but should also be a boost to the highways industry, because of all the associated infrastructure needed, for the next 10 years. However, a bigger challenge will be to find enough people with the right expertise and experience to do the jobs required. We need to encourage younger people into our industry – they will become those people over time.

Do you participate in any other career related activities?

I am a committee member in the IHE North West branch, which a group of us helped to resurrect in 2018. This involves a number of annual activities, including CPD events, STEM events and similar. I also try and support colleagues through professional registration.

Oliver Appleby
Student Member undertaking a year-in-industry

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As a university student undertaking a year-in-industry with Local Transport Projects (LTP), I am working on a range of different projects from access design to modelling. Regular work includes preliminary access designs, swept path analyses and active travel projects. My role at LTP is to gain as much knowledge as I can about the various types of work we do and develop good working practices.

What degree are you enrolled in?

I am enrolled in Civil Engineering at Liverpool John Moores University.

What pointed you to an engineering career?

Engineering has been something that I have always been interested in, from building bridges and tunnels in sandpits when I was young. Additionally, when attending the university open day, the civil engineering course was described as ‘Lego’ which, having always enjoyed repurposing models so they never stay as originally intended, appealed to me.

Can you describe a typical working day?

Typically this involves project briefings/meetings, working on drawings, helping colleagues with technical issues and completing odd jobs.

Are there any particular challenges or unusual aspects to your role?

Being new to the industry means there is frequent referencing and reading of the many guidance documents, e.g. DMRB, TSRGD and TSM, when commencing new projects. Especially true when
challenging access designs are required to fit with existing road layout and geometry.

What is most enjoyable about your job?

The variety of types of work, especially the projects that make you stop and think.

What made you join the IHE?

I joined the IHE as a Student Member in September 2017 at the start of my university degree. I have now been a member for two and a half years.

Have you considered becoming Professionally Registered?

I am in the process of becoming Professionally Registered at EngTech level.

Is there any advice you would pass on to anyone considering Professional Registration?

Do it – the hardest part is getting started.

Where do you see yourself in your career in five year’s time?

I will have finished my degree and be working towards becoming chartered as well as learning the ropes to become a Road Safety Auditor.

Do you participate in any other career related activities, such as mentoring, volunteering or membership of other engineering groups?

I volunteer as Student Council Member on the IHE Council and am part of the North West Branch Committee.

Outside work, is there any activity you enjoy doing in your spare time personally and/or professionally?

Outside of work I can frequently be found volunteering at charity events, such as International Scout Jamborees as well as competing in running events.

Stephen Webb
IEng FIHE

IHE President and Associate at WSP

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Stephen, who recently took office as President of the IHE, is an associate at WSP and commission manager for the Somerset County Council Professional Services Contract, where he is responsible for day-to-day management of delivering highway and transportation services to the council and partners.

What inspired you to become an engineer?

My talents at school were focused around art and technical. I therefore began as a draughtsman in the field of wastewater engineering, before the days of AutoCAD, where parallel motions and maintaining pens were the challenges of the day. Later in my career, an opportunity arose to work in the highways sector on local safety scheme delivery within my home county of Somerset. It as here I felt I was making a difference in delivering improvement schemes which directly benefited the community.

Can you describe a typical working day?

Working within this ‘new normal’, my day is often spent with headset in place and various calls and meetings ongoing. This can sometimes be a challenge when my toddler is keen to join! I lead WSP’s Taunton team and head delivery on a number of highway improvement schemes within Somerset. My IHE presidency brings new challenges and I aim to lead the Institute through these testing times.

Are there any particular challenges or unusual aspects to your role?

My role as IHE President and as commission manager will present unforeseen challenges which will require immediate and effective action. The pandemic requires an ability for us all to adapt, ensuring we continue to succeed in ensuring our industry and communities remain strong and resilient through these exceptional times.

Tell us about a professional achievement

My appointment as President of the Institute is one of my significant achievements within my career and I consider this a great honour. The support and good wishes I’ve received since my presidency was announced has been fantastic and I’m looking forward to leading the IHE for the next two years.

When did you join the IHE?

I joined the IHE in 2007 while also member of the ICE. From this point on I knew that the IHE was my institution of choice.

What contributed to your decision to become professionally registered?

I have been fortunate to work for a number of professional organisations who have proactively promoted registration. This, coupled with outstanding mentors throughout my development, encouraged me to become professionally recognised.

Is there any advice you would pass on to someone considering professional registration?

The first steps are invariably the hardest to take but once you begin to produce your submission, momentum is a great helper. Professional registration provides many opportunities and I would highly recommend becoming a committee member of your local branch or serving on the National Council.

Marshel Weerakone MEng CEng FIHE
Project Manager, Highways England's New Scheme Delivery Framework

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Marshel is the project manager for Highways England’s new Scheme Delivery Framework (SDF), responsible for ensuring the £3.6bn capital delivery framework contract is developed and ready to be rolled out for its November 2021 go-live date.

What inspired you to become an engineer?

Initially I wanted to be a pilot but I lost interest in that and set my ambitions on becoming a civil engineer. I was naturally good with numbers, particularly the application of mechanics and use of equations so that, combined with my desire to see more of the world, seemed like a natural fit.

Can you describe a typical working day?

A typical day for me involves engaging with operational staff across the regions to understand any issues they have with the existing contracts and looking to resolve that through contractual amendments. I spend a lot of time working with colleagues, developing design and construction contracts so they are better aligned with our Asset Delivery model.

Are there any particular challenges or unusual aspects to your role?

Not only am I delivering the largest ever framework for Operations, but it is also a national framework. The majority of capital works contracts are let across Highways England via its 12 areas so a key challenge is to ensure the first national contract meets all areas’ needs and facilitates a consistent way of working.

What do you find most enjoyable about your job?

The fast-paced nature of the work. Requests for contract and/or operational changes are constant as we’re continuously looking to improve how we deliver work.

What made you join the IHE?

I joined following my move to Highways England. I had built up a wealth of experience as a consultant working in the office and on site for both public and private sector clients. I wanted to take the next step in my career and become professionally qualified.

Tell us about a great professional achievement or high-profile accomplishment

In 2018 I won the ICE North West Emerging Engineer Award. This was for leading in developing and implementing the management of newly identified structures. A large UK water company required expertise in identifying the location of over 150 bridges and developing a risk-based approach to the renewal of the assets. As technical lead, I undertook over 90 operational safety assessments and 100 general bridge inspections.

What contributed to your decision to become professionally registered?

I was fortunate enough to have spent all of my professional career working in teams with professionally qualified colleagues. The support and mentorship they provided was invaluable and played key part in me pursuing professional registration.

In what ways has registration benefited your career?

Becoming a chartered engineer has provided me with the confidence to tackle more complex engineering contract issues. I can see a lot more opportunities available to me if I wish to pursue a change from managing contracts.

How does your employer benefit from your professional registration?

Highways England welcomes chartered engineers as it demonstrates the competency of staff and they are keen to put those staff in more responsible roles.

Is there any advice you would pass on to someone considering professional registration?

Don’t be put off by the volume of work that is needed for the application process. The reward is worth the effort.

Given the current economic and environmental climate, what do you consider the biggest challenges facing the highways and transportation industry?

The biggest challenge for the industry is still the uncertainty that COVID-19 brings. A lot of local authority roads and major routes, as well as Network Rail, may need to determine new processes for forecasting future passenger numbers; this will impact on whether new schemes are really required or not.

Where do you see yourself in your career in five years’ time?

My aim is to be leading on more complex projects. It would be good to be at the coalface again, either developing or constructing schemes on site.

Do you participate in any other career-related activities, such as mentoring, volunteering or membership of other engineering groups?

I’m currently chair of the Joint Institutions Group, having held the position for nearly three years. The role is really exciting as it involves working with the main engineering institutions in the North West. We arrange engineering workshops for students interested in pursuing a career in engineering. Last year we had over 400 students from over 40 schools attend.

Outside work, is there any activity you enjoy doing in your spare time personally and/ or professionally?

I’m a keen scuba diver and traveller so plan a couple of trips throughout the year.

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