Andrew Mackenzie

Management Graduate

"The best aspect of the graduate programme is that I have been given genuine responsibility since the very beginning."

Why did you apply to Colas Rail?

I applied to the Colas Rail Graduate Programme because I want to work on major projects in the railway industry. I was looking for a programme that would give me a broad experience of the industry and allow me to develop both my management and engineering skills. This has definitely happened and by the end of the graduate programme I will be in a very good position to decide on what direction I want my future career to take.

What are your top tips for getting through the application process?

Be confident and professional in your interactions with Colas staff and other candidates, make sure your application is specific to the qualities Colas are looking for, take responsibility for making sure everyone contributes at the assessment centre.

What is the best aspect of the graduate programme for you?

The best aspect of the graduate programme is that I have been given genuine responsibility since the very beginning; being given important tasks that need to be done to ensure the success of projects has helped me to quickly become a part of various teams and has helped me learn a lot in a short period of time.

How did you manage the transition from university to the workplace?

I found it quite a smooth transition as I started at Colas only 3 days after handing in my dissertation; I did not have a long summer holiday to get used to sleeping in again. Moving house in such a short timescale was a bit stressful but Colas understood that it takes a little while to get settled in a new place and so built my workload up quite gradually.

Which of the Colas Rail 5 E’s do you demonstrate most frequently in your role?

Engage – As part of the Wessex Capacity Alliance I work closely with Network Rail and other Alliance partners as well as South West Trains. This allows me to make sure that the client is getting exactly what they need from the project and to keep them updated every step of the way.

Tell us about the support you receive from Colas Rail?

Colas Rail has sent me on numerous training courses over the last year. These include Personal Track Safety (PTS), which allows me to work on the railway and the APM Introductory Certificate, which has greatly improved my knowledge of project management. Colas Rail have also provided me with a mentor and paid all of the fees for me to pursue professional membership of the IMechE. In addition, Colas have provided me with support when I have been relocating for different placements.

Tell us about your first few months at Colas Rail?

I spent the first week doing corporate induction, PTS training and going to the Colas Rail annual football tournament. I then went to my first placement in Rail Systems on a project to build a new piece of railway between Chester and Wrexham. During this placement I got to spend a lot of time out on track learning about how railways are installed; I was involved in the planning of future work, ordering the plant that was required and reporting progress to our client.

What skills have you found to be the most useful on the job?

Overall, I have found communication and organisation skills to be the most useful. There are so many people involved on a project that you need to be very clear in your communications. There is also an endless number of things to get done so being able to organise and prioritise your work bank is an important skill which I have had to improve.