I left school at 15 just after GCSEs and was keen to get into the workplace as soon as I could. I had an interest in building and was lucky enough to get a job pretty quickly in a local architectural practice who financed my day-release course to study for an ONC in Architecture.
That was the beginning of my workplace learning as I went on to also study for a HNC in Civil Engineering, again on day-release. My greatest learning ground was undoubtedly being on-the-job, and to this day, almost thirty years later, I am still learning something with every new challenge I overcome.
The thing I love most about my job is the opportunity to problem-solve and find solutions to often complex and challenging issues. At Shanly's every property is different and with that diversity of product comes a wide range of different challenges which makes every day interesting. You wouldn't necessarily get that luxury working for volume-builders whose developments are often much the same, so I consider myself fortunate to have such variety.
I'm an early riser and like to beat the traffic and get in the office early. Every day is different but yesterday I started by sorting out consultant's invoices. I then had a brief meeting with our Head of Marketing before heading off to site to meet with a utility supplier to discuss installation of a temporary supply of electricity to one of our developments. Once back in the office I worked on drafting some initial drawings for an electrical layout for a housing development of seven contemporary terraced properties in Winchmore Hill, North London. I then spent the afternoon in a progress meeting where fellow heads of departments and I, along with our regional managing director, discussed the progress being made across eight developments within our region.
The role of a Technical Manager is a busy job which involves spinning many plates. From managing Architects, Engineers and other disciplines and trades; to liaising with external service providers and suppliers; the role involves a lot of interaction with others. We need to make sure that all practicalities and necessary considerations have been incorporated into the design and plan of every home and we keep close oversight of those responsible for carrying out all aspects of the build process from ground workers to plumbers to ensure that the trades do everything right… meeting not only industry standards and design specifications, but also the specific standards and requirements exacted in every Shanly home.
Being a Technical Manager is a great career option for somebody with a creative and logical mind, who is able to think outside-of-the-box and problem-solve. It's important not to be phased by being faced with unforeseen challenges and the ability to multi-task and work well with people from across many disciplines and professions is also essential. I would say that having a combination of good technical knowledge and excellent interpersonal skills is what is required to progress into a leadership role, which also requires a good head for numbers and an ability to get the best from people.
For me, undergoing training and learning whilst in the workplace was ideal as I didn't want to go to University, but I appreciate that having employer-funded training is not always an option for people. For those looking to do a degree before embarking on work, I would suggest that focussing on disciples such as Structural Engineering, Civil Engineering or Architecture would be good options. If you have an opportunity to receive employer-funded training, then I would always be an advocate of workplace learning. That route certainly has stood me in good stead.
Mark Finch, who joined Shanly Homes in January 2008, is Head of Technical covering the North London region.