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Richard Bland

Richard Bland

operations director, AECOM


Design, Construction, Project Management


United Kingdom
My highlights

Working in Western Australia from 2006-2017

Starting my career by working on Heathrow Terminal 5 in London

Becoming a Fellow of the ICE

A day in my life

As the operations director for AECOM’s energy business, each day is different, and I love the variety.

I work with leaders, project managers and delivery teams to help them achieve their goals and those of the business. 

This includes providing project and tendering oversight, monitoring performance and guiding the teams on how to take proactive action to mitigate risks and maximise opportunities.

I mentor delivery teams to ensure effective training and support is in place to develop confident, commercially and operationally astute project directors and project managers. This helps to drive strong financial performance.

I also work closely with the senior leadership team to enable strategic recruitment, professional development, and engagement and retention plans. This is to ensure we have the best people to drive the business forward. 

We have a strong focus on diversity and inclusion which underpins the development of these strategic plans.

Civil engineering has enabled me to meet and work with some fantastic people, build lifelong relationships, deliver fascinating and complex projects, and travel and explore the world.

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

My father started his career as an apprentice marine mechanical engineer and spent his early years working in ship engine rooms travelling the world.

My interest in engineering is very much down to him and he, and my mother, inspired me to follow a civil engineering path.

We asked Richard…

I would recommend a career in civil engineering because…

it gave me the opportunity to travel the world, meet great people, make lifelong friends and work on interesting major projects and programmes.

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

…an amateur fiction writer and keen (but rather average) triathlete and runner.

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

Solving problems by working with a diverse range of people, each with different ideas and perspectives, to collaborate and deliver solutions.

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

The variety and complexity of civil engineering projects, and the importance the projects have on our society.

And concrete – I love concrete, it’s so interesting!

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

When I was a graduate site engineer working for Laing O’Rourke, I attended a presentation internally on the second Severn Crossing from the team that delivered the project.

It was a fascinating project that I would’ve loved to have been involved with.

I have also always had a desire to work on a major tunnelling or a hydro-electric dam project – but unfortunately haven’t had the opportunity yet!

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

Civil engineering isn’t boring.

Civil engineering has enabled me to meet and work with some fantastic people, build lifelong relationships, deliver fascinating and complex projects, and travel and explore the world.

What motivated you to become professionally qualified? 

While working in Australia, I gained Chartered Professional Engineer status with Engineers Australia.

I was planning to relocate back to the UK, and I wanted a professional qualification (and recognition) to assist me with gaining future employment in the UK.

I then gained mutual recognition with the ICE and several years later I successfully applied for Fellowship.

What does being professionally qualified with the ICE mean for your career?  

I believe it has opened doors in my career by providing new opportunities and enabling professional growth and career development. 

What’s the best thing about being professionally qualified with the ICE? 

Being able to provide support and mentorship to colleagues to assist their professional development.

How did the ICE and your employer support you to become professionally qualified? 

While I was educated in the UK, I lived in Australia for 12 years and it was in Australia where I gained Chartered Professional Engineer status.

When I relocated back to the UK, I applied for mutual recognition with the ICE and then, most recently, Fellowship.

These activities were driven by my own desire to achieve these qualifications and I completed them independently, with my employer providing sponsorship for my applications.

What do you value most about being an ICE member? 

The professional recognition of my career, skills and abilities.

How has being a member helped your career?

It has helped me focus on my own career journey to identify areas for improvement and career development.

Anything else? i.e. personal causes, hobbies

I have completed 10 marathons and one Ironman triathlon. During Covid I wrote a dystopian novel set in Australia that I’m looking to get published! 

What’s the biggest/most complex thing you’ve made out of Lego? How long did it take you?

The DeLorean from Back to the Future – it took about 10 hours over Christmas/New Year 2022.

Richard's career path

I completed a BEng in Civil Engineering at Nottingham Trent University.

Started my career with a main contractor, working on major civil engineering projects in the UK and Ireland.

In my mid-20s, I moved to Western Australia to work primarily in the resources sector (mining, oil and gas, and major civil engineering projects).

This was principally working for the main contractor, but my role expanded into working for engineering, procurement, construction management (EPCM) organisations delivering major infrastructure projects.

Since moving back to the UK, I worked client side for Transport for London, before moving to my current company AECOM, delivering engineering design consultancy services for our clients.

Major projects

  • Heathrow Terminal 5, London, UK – where I began my career in 2002
  • Great Northern Highway, Kimberley, Western Australia – on this road construction project we relocated a 36-tonne boab tree, estimated to be 750 years old, over 2000 miles to Kings Park in Perth
  • Ichthys LNG onshore processing facility, Darwin, Australia  
  • Docklands Light Rail Depot Beckton Depot Upgrade
  • Eastleigh Seasonal and Rail Delivery Depot