adi Projects business development director, Ian Hart

#NCW2020 @adiGroupLtd - Ian Hart Talks Engineering #Careers

It’s day two of #NationalCareersWeek, an initiative designed to build futures and encourage young people into their desired trades.

Backing the campaign with its own inspirational stories are the multi-disciplined engineering firm adi Group, which is this week turning the spotlight on those with a long-standing career within the engineering industry.

Here, we hear from adi Projects business development director, Ian Hart, who talks more about how his engineering family influenced his decision to join the sector.

Tell us a little about your role, the projects you are supporting and the type of work you undertake on a daily basis.
My role is to find new business opportunities for adi Projects. It involves meeting clients and matching their engineering needs to the services adi can provide. This is undertaken in line with the overall business strategy to ensure we focus on customers who value our skills. I therefore need to utilise my understanding of our target sectors (e.g. food & drink, pharmaceuticals, etc) along with my knowledge of the many different disciplines required to deliver projects including civil, electrical, mechanical and process engineering. It does mean there is a fair amount of travelling but also means no day is the same.

What attracted you to a career in the engineering sector?
I come from an engineering family and spent a great deal of time walking around ships when I was younger. Visiting the engine rooms of aircraft carriers, submarines, etc gave me a good insight into the way large mechanical and electrical systems worked and how they interacted with each other. I also liked building things so a career that allowed me to construct complex engineering facilities was an inevitable career choice.

How did you initially get started in engineering? Did you do an apprenticeship?
I initially planned to follow an apprenticeship that enabled me to work onboard ships. However, my exam grades were better than expected and I was advised to follow the University route undertaking a degree in Mechanical Engineering. While the course taught me a wide range of skills, I still wanted to build things so I joined a construction company building process plants once I graduated. This meant I was more involved with delivering projects rather than carrying out detailed engineering, but I still needed my technical knowledge to be credible.

What do you most like about working for adi Group/adi Projects?
Since graduating, my role has changed over time. After working for the construction company, I spent some time working in client organisations. This meant I had to gain a better understanding of the business case for any investments and how any implementation was structured. This was followed by a number of years working for consulting engineers managing the design and delivery of schemes on behalf of the client. Working for adi now allows me to pull all of this experience and knowledge together to assist our customers with their own investments. Being able to help them minimise costs, ensure programme stability and maintain quality, all the while reducing risk is a very positive motivator.

What is the best project you’ve ever worked on?
The best project was delivering a £50m capital investment for Thorntons, the chocolate company. It took over three years to deliver from the initial concept design through to final commissioning. There were 22 sub-projects including new production equipment, buildings, refrigeration plant, automated warehouses, fire systems, etc.: even a copy of a high street shop! Starting the new facility on time and within budget was a major challenge, but with careful planning and working closely with the rest of the team, we managed to achieve the target. It was a proud moment when the first chocolates came down the production line

With everything you’ve learnt, what would you tell the ‘younger you’ about a career in engineering?
My advice would be not to be too prescriptive about your career choices at a young age. The range of opportunities within engineering are vast, so keep an open mind about where you will be in the future. I know I spent a lot of time agonising over which discipline to study at university which with hindsight was unnecessary. Having an understanding of all aspects of engineering is more fulfilling.

Any other comments on the engineering sector / engineering careers you’d like to share?
Please utilise all of the support available. I know, for example, that the engineering institutions are very focussed on helping people pursue their career choices. As well as producing printed and online material, they also organise visits to engineering companies so you can see how they work. They can also provide mentoring and support where needed if you need more personal advice.

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