Name: Jordan Brownlee
Degree and university: University of Portsmouth, BEng Civil Engineering
Work title: Graduate Civil Engineer, Network Rail.
What do you actually do? I am currently working within a Civils team which is tasked with delivering major strengthening and renewal works on the Railway network within Scotland. This involves strengthening of structures including bridges and viaducts to maintain their ability to carry both passenger and freight traffic. This involves a high degree of planning with consultants, contractors and external parties such as Local Authorities and environmental agencies, as well as the train operating companies, to minimise disruption to the public.
Since joining Network Rail I have worked within various teams, gaining a good understanding of the numerous roles and responsibilities within the company. I have worked within Maintenance, whose primary role is to repair track defects, and also Structures Maintenance, who maintain the integrity of the structures on the network, and undergone a six month secondment with a Design Consultancy.
Were you always interested in engineering as a career? I was never quite sure exactly what I wanted to do when I left school, but Engineering was always something I was interested in. It was during an Engineering open day at the university that I decided it was the career path I wanted to take. So far, it’s been a great decision.
How did you find out about this particular job? The university provided a very good careers service which provided several career magazines. In particular there were specific publications aimed at Engineering students, and it was in one of these that I read about the opportunities available within Network Rail.
Would you undertake further study to gain promotion? I’m currently aiming towards achieving professional Chartership with the Institution of Civil Engineering which requires continuous professional development (CPD) throughout your career. Network Rail provides a number of external and internal training courses to help meet my career aspirations.
What do you like most about what you do and are there any downsides? The variety of work is great, from the planning straight through to the implementation of projects. You get to meet a wide range of people from many different Engineering disciplines working together to achieve a final solution. In the railway there is no room for mistakes. Everything has to be complete within a defined period of time to minimise disruption to the travelling public. When a project is completed on time it’s a great feeling.
I wouldn’t say there are any real downsides. Engineering work at any level requires a degree of nightshift and weekend working, but when you enjoy what you do and relish the challenges, it’s worth it.
What skills do you need to succeed? You need to have a good grasp of communication skills, and an ability to work on your own initiative and within a team. The ability to solve problems is also key.
What advice would you give graduates coming into the sector? Focus on where you want to be in five or six years’ time. Make sure your future employer is focused on CPD and has a commitment to helping you to achieve Chartership. Aim for a company that can offer a wide range of experience and support to help complete industry objectives.
Would you like to add anything? Engineering is currently a great place to be. In particular, the Railway sector is currently experiencing a high level of investment, providing great opportunities for the people involved.