"Having the opportunity to go abroad and work on international projects is great."
Can you give us a quick overview of your role?
I have a pretty varied role! I’m a strategic advisor for our transport and planning business line, which means I spend a lot of my time looking at business development, and exploring the strategic direction of our business in Europe. I make decisions about the projects we’re going to put ourselves forward for, the countries we want to work in, and so on. I also have input into the direction of the wider UK business, and how we drive it forward in terms of growth and performance. I also chair a cross-business business development group. Alongside all of that, I’m also a senior project manager which means I get involved in technical work – though these days that tends to be at a higher level.
You’ve been with us for 20 years. What have you done in that time, and what attracted you to us in the first place?
The company has changed around me for quite a bit! Since joining aged 20-something, I’ve been able to move up through the ranks. In that time I’ve seen a number of mergers, and the company has grown exponentially. Here in Manchester we’ve been in the same building for 20 years, but the company is a completely different animal. We’ve become very international. Initially we were quite focused on work up in the north of the UK, but the mergers opened up borders and boundaries. I feel constantly challenged here – the change keeps things interesting. There are always opportunities within the business if you put yourself forward. It’s great to be able to work for such an exciting and flexible company.
What do you enjoy most about working here?
It’s the variety of opportunities. There’s always something different you can get involved in if you put yourself forward for it, whether that’s our knowledge groups, business development groups, or centres of expertise.
Having the opportunity to go abroad and work on international projects is also great. You build up a fantastic network of people across the world who you can then draw on for expertise and insight. I think that’s one of the main advantages of working for a global company like Royal HaskoningDHV.
What interests you most about the job you do?
The strategic element of my work really excites me at the moment. I’m currently working towards my MBA with the University of Liverpool – and I’ve been able to apply what I’m learning on the MBA almost the next day in work. For example, one of the first modules was about organisational change and leadership, and I was able to use my learning from that module in a meeting that same week where we were looking at how we react as a business to the external environment. I still very much enjoy getting involved in technical work, but I’m pleased to have the opportunity to think more innovatively about the direction of the company and how we need to adapt and change in order to thrive as a business.
What has been the most inspirational project you’ve worked on in your time here?
The biggest project I’ve worked on was in Saudi Arabia – an infrastructure project worth 0.5bn US dollars. At its peak we had over 60 people working on it. So it was a large, multidisciplinary team, drawing on experts from roads, geotechnics, structures and traffic management, to name a few. It was a challenge trying to run such a big team, and also Saudi Arabia can be a challenging place to work.
What three words would you use to describe Royal HaskoningDHV?
Diverse, enjoyable, authentic.
What opportunities have you had to develop yourself and your career?
The company supported me well as I worked towards becoming a chartered civil engineer. Being able to work on a variety of projects in a variety of places has been integral to putting forward a strong portfolio of evidence in order to become chartered. I’ve been given such a broad range of experience. The company supported me through a degree through the Open University, and of course I’m also currently working towards an MBA. There’s a real culture of learning here. If you can identify a need and put a business plan together that outlines the benefits, you can do anything!
What’s the one thing about working here that you value the most?
There are so many things! I value the variety - it provides us with diverse opportunities that many other companies can’t provide. We’re also fortunate with the ownership model that really encourages a culture of trust. The Dutch influence has also had a huge impact on our culture. It’s a good place to work – the atmosphere is positive, and we have a caring and open culture.
How would you describe your colleagues?
They’re committed and professional. Our people like to work hard, but they also enjoy playing hard too! It’s so important to get along with the people you work with. We spend a lot of time in work, and we need to be able to enjoy it and get along with people. We socialise a lot here in Manchester – whether that’s wine tasting, or going out for a meal together.