I got into asset surveying several years back as I had worked as a building surveyor for loc
al authorities and government prior to that. Part of my unique position in the work is the fact I have multiple skills and trade backgrounds because of my interest in learning new things and as an engineer we used multiple skills I kept adding to year after year.
I began many years ago as an electronics engineer but found in the last big recession (not 2008) that I couldn’t find work as the market had too many technical people in that field at the time. I then retrained and worked as a cabinet maker making furniture before transferring into house building and eventually mixing up my carpentry knowledge with the exhibition trade. It was during the exhibition trade I started to reapply my electronics and add in electrical.
There was a reason for this when you build exhibition stands the staff are in stages, you start with carpenters and move onto electrical then electronics. I could build the stands, wire them and the lighting systems finishing off with the computer systems, Plasma TV’s and audio setups. Quite literally I was staying on contracts 3 times longer than most other people because I just moved onto the next trade team.
The downside to exhibition work though is extremely long hours which you never seem to recover from. I would work 16 hours every day and every now and again have to do an all night session due to a lack of skilled labour being available. I remember doing Jordan racing and Honda at the ICC where 130 carpenters were expected but only 30 turned up. That left us working 36 hours straight to get the work done on time. After that heading home sleeping for 4 – 6 hours and back in for another 16. I did this until I eventually decided to just call it a day. I could see it wasn’t doing my health any favours or the people around me.
That’s how I moved from the exhibition trade back into construction and eventually into maintenance. After dropping into contracts with local authorities and the military I eventually settled on working for a Facilities Management company. This was a bit of a leap as the projects were a bit more diverse and the buildings and technology were a lot more interesting than some of the previous contracts. Working for Mowlem I had made the move to Integral and while there I had gone back to college yet again (spent 9 years at college all together so far) and also undertook a locksmith and lock picking course. After a couple of years there and progression in the company I made the move to other facilities management companies in the Birmingham area.
I had worked for Integral directly but preferred to move between the other companies on a contract basis as it gave a much higher salary and the flexibility allowed me to move sites and vary my work. Working for Johnson Controls and others in the sector such as McAlpine, Tarmac at the same time moving from more hands on roles to management and surveying. The background experiences I have had over the years made it extremely easy for me to do quotation work and timescales because I had experience in most things construction and maintenance related. Eventually ending up at Carillion PLC the funny thing with that being most of the other companies I had worked for previously have been bought out and absorbed by Carillion already. So the move was a lot easier than it may seem changing companies. I have been working for and with Carillion for literally years now on an as and when needed basis. This suits me well as its a two way street allowing me to live in the Philippines and just commute to the UK or wherever when needed.
I deal primarily in new contracts and work to assess the value of the contract based on the bid information and assets on sites. More of an auditor these days than anything else but not only assessing equipment but working out the man hours and running costs for the maintenance teams. The most recent contract came in not far under $100m for a client with over 1000 staff. Getting these figures right are extremely important for not only the FM companies but also the client. Going under budget can often lead to excess failures due to reduced maintenance levels or extra unexpected costs. Going over budget the clients may reject the maintenance contract completely, even though there are safety nets in the contracts that normally lead to excess savings being returned to the client.
Interesting and varied work and although its not for everyone I enjoy it!