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James Vincent

James Vincent

Section Engineer, Skanska UK

Expertise

Construction, Project management, Structural

Location

United Kingdom
Career highlights

Worked on HS2, Crossrail and the Waterloo Station Upgrade

Honed structural engineering skills working in a design office for a consultant

Worked with and managed teams on large highways projects, such as the M25 Road Widening Scheme

A day in my life

My day currently starts with morning briefings between me, the engineering team and the construction team, which gives us an opportunity to review the work ahead that day.

I’m responsible for managing a team of site engineers who manage the construction teams more closely on site.

This means part of my job role is to mentor and ensure each of my engineers is aware of their roles and responsibilities and continue to develop their own skills. I provide support to these engineers throughout the day, helping with their judgement and decision making.

I’m also responsible for the project management, contractual management, programming, planning and delivery of the construction process.

This includes organising and chairing meetings with other construction teams, subcontractors and key stakeholders such as the council, client and residents. This can also include procurement of materials, organisation of labour, management of risks.

I’m a civil engineer, but I’m also ... a project manager.

My career inspiration 

I first heard about civil engineering when I was at my school careers fair and I realised it was the subjects I was interested in and found the concept brilliant.

Further inspiration came from my love of nature documentaries and the idea of sustainability, which, as a civil engineer, you can have a large impact on.

I also gained inspiration from television shows like How Stuff’s Made, How Things Work, Brainiac, and Richard Hammond’s Engineering Connections and Megastructures. .

M1 J19 Improvement Scheme.
M1 J19 Improvement Scheme.

what’s one great thing that you love about civil engineering that you didn’t know until you started working in the industry?

The amazing feeling you get after one or more years work on a large project to see the impact you’ve had. I think most notably on my first major project, after two years, I was amazed by the feeling I had by being able to drive through a motorway junction which I’d helped to build. .

which civil engineering myth(s) you would like to bust?

Civil engineering is a male industry. Although I never thought this was the case myself, there are definitely some preconceptions that civil engineering is a male industry.

I’d like to say that the company I work for (Skanska UK) and the industry in general, is one of the most professional, innovative and ground-breaking industries in setting the way for ethics, bribery, fairness and inclusion.

Fundamentally, the problems we solve as engineers are complex, and that requires a diverse range of skills and backgrounds to solve in new and innovative ways. That’s why I want to encourage everyone to consider civil engineering as a career.

which civil engineering project (past or present) do you wish you’d worked on?

Clifton Suspension Bridge, Channel Tunnel, Burj Khalifa, and Thames Tunnel.

what about being a civil engineer inspires you?

The thrill of working as part of a team, and that people depend on me being there for the construction project to run smoothly.

Although I don’t believe it’s 100% necessary, for construction and project management it helps to have good teamwork, management and leadership skills. Working in sports teams, or as part of clubs, helps to develop those skills.

would you recommend a career in civil engineering?

It's extremely rewarding to see the change and difference that you can make to people’s lives.

The major infrastructure projects that civil engineers work on shape the future of transport networks, connect people and make our lives simpler.

Think about how much of your life’s made better because of civil engineering and the built environment. Think about energy generation and power to your home, clean water supplies at the flick of a tap, flushing toilets for hygienic living, homes, offices, hospitals, schools, train stations, roads, airports and many more.

There are a multitude of sectors to become involved in within civil engineering and each of them play a key role in the world we live today. Civil engineers play a vital role in identifying the needs of society and developing affordable solutions that meet society’s aspirations. In fulfilling this role, civil engineers contribute to economic growth, environmental protection and improved quality of life.

Education

A Levels: Maths, Physics, Design and Technology (Product Design)

University degree – Master’s in Civil Engineering