Who are you and what do you do?
I’m a geotechnical engineer in our Edinburgh office, I manage our ground engineering projects in Scotland as well as leading our geotechnical offering in the Critical Systems (datacentre) environment. The latter role has taken me to projects all over Europe and has led to some amazing experiences – cycling across a frozen sea being one of them! In terms of applying my skills I’m often reviewing engineering options with clients to see if we have the most effective foundation solution or where we can use some specialist ground engineering techniques to reduce programme or prevent material going to landfill. I’m also heavily involved with Climate Change Adaptation so spend some of my time on an Institute of Civil Engineer’s working group as well as developing our own strategy on this important topic.
What or who inspired you to be an engineer?
I think I’ve always been fascinated by solving problems, which couple with a geology degree, ended up with me working in geotechnics and studying for my MSc. I worked for a specialist contractor for a number of years which taught me a lot of design skills as well as an understanding of all kinds of solutions for ground engineering problems. This lets me apply all this knowledge now to help our clients develop the most effective schemes.
What made you decide to join Cundall?
Mountain biking! I worked with Cundall’s geotechnical partner at a previous company and we’d kept in touch over the years with a common interest in mountain biking. When I relocated to Scotland I got in touch to organise a bike ride and ended up with a job offer! There wasn’t a geotechnical team in Scotland at that point so it’s been great to develop the market there and to help our office grow in Edinburgh.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
The variety! Just in the week of me writing this profile I’ve been reviewing earthworks progress on a site in northern Sweden, giving a webinar on climate change adaptation, managing a ground investigation in Poland, and undertaking a due diligence exercise for one of Scotland’s largest landowners. There really is never a dull moment and it’s great to move between projects where I’m undertaking detailed design work on retaining walls or earthworks to providing value engineering advice and high-level strategies for designers. I also lead the Climate Change Adaptation strategy within Cundall, which is something I’m very passionate about and is key to all of us who work in the built environment given the ongoing climate emergency.
What are you most proud of in your career to-date?
I think from an engineering perspective then probably one of the first projects I was involved with at Cundall. This was to undertake emergency stabilisation works to a severely flooded area in Newburn that resulted in a catastrophic washout of material beneath a number of residential properties (in one case exposing nearly the full depth of the piles beneath). Whilst it was a technically complex project with tight budget and time constraints, the best part by far was restoring the site to a point where nearly all of the resident could return to their homes. On a more general note, being part of the group that created Cundall’s new sustainability strategy is something I’m incredibly proud of as it’s shaped both where the company has headed and resulted in us having a much bigger impact on sustainable design.
Tell us the most interesting thing you have learnt or experienced in your time at Cundall
I was selected to go the UK Green Building Council’s Future Leaders Programme in 2018 which was an absolute game changer for me. It was a nine month course that focuses on leadership, innovation and disruptive thinking and really helped me understand myself and how I can have a bigger impact on whatever I choose to apply myself to, as well as making some great contacts around the industry. The skills have come in incredibly useful for everything from giving presentations to clients, managing staff, to persuading the managing partners on what our sustainability strategy should be.