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Lee Piper

Lee Piper

construction director, Costain


Construction, Project Management


United Kingdom
My highlights

Going form bricklayer to engineer with Costain in 1990

Working on C405 Crossrail, helping shape the best team I've ever worked with

Becoming an ICE fellow - for someone who wasn’t a graduate, progressing to fellowship is something I'm very proud of

A day in my life

I start early as I like to lead from the front and set the tone for the day.

I induct any new starts as I feel this is fundamental to our culture. Then, on site, I speak to the team and check out any issues, best to hit these head on.

Once this is complete, I leave the operational delivery to my team.

I support the strategy to improve the programme with the client and the design team, along with any engineering support I can help with.

I would recommend a career in civil engineering because it’s a great career, with great people, and a real sense of achievement when you’ve helped produce a new slice of the future. 

Which individual project or person inspired you to become a civil engineer?

I was inspired by leaders not engineers.

Three works superintendents that I worked for as an engineer on the Newbury Bypass: Colin Mitton, Mike Fields, and Kenneth Hodge (sadly no longer with us).

These guys helped me and so many engineers out of sticky situations – they were the reason I chose my management route.

We asked Lee…

Complete this phrase: I’m a civil engineer, but I’m also…

Adaptable to each and every situation. 

What about being a civil engineer gets you out of bed each morning?

No day is the same, there are always challenges ahead. 

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

The quality of the people within each organisation and the breath of talent coming through from graduate level. 

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

The Second Severn Crossing.

Name one civil engineering myth you’d like to bust.

Of who’s the most influential civil engineer. For me it’s Brunel of course - I’m from the South West. 

Has civil engineering helped you overcome any personal hurdles/difficulties?

Yes, definitely! Communication skills are improved, and the breath of people we meet daily keeps us grounded. 

Anything else?

I wouldn’t be a fellow of the ICE if it weren’t for my wife, and our goal to collectively achieve things for our own legacy. 

Cut journey times from England to Wales via a Victorian tunnel and a modern suspension bridge.

Severn Crossings

Cut journey times from England to Wales via a Victorian tunnel and a modern suspension bridge.

Lee's career path

From apprentice bricklayer to a fellow of the ICE - a long story!

In summary, I’ve had the privilege of working my way up from a bricklayer apprentice to trainee engineer.

Then into a works management role on some large-scale civil engineering projects like Crossrail, Paddington Station, Hinkley Point C and HS2. I also worked on some significant UK schemes like the A465 in Wales and Reading Station.

These have all provided a huge benefit to the public and the transport sector which is why I enjoy my role so much.

Major projects

  • Crossrail
  • HS2
  • Hinkley Point C
  • Newbury Bypass A34
  • M5 Avonmouth Viaduct
  • A465 Heads of the Valleys
  • Reading Station