In this edition, Pre-Construction and New Business Manager, Tim Casalis de Pury discusses his experience of the construction industry, highlights how early contractor involvement is essential to driving value in a project, and discusses how strong relationships throughout the supply chain are to vital to delivery success.

What made you choose a career in the construction industry?

Tim:  From an early age I have had an interest in how things work, making and taking things apart.  At school I really enjoyed maths, physics and D&T so a practical form of engineering always appealed to me.  Also, my father and grandfather were both engineers working in mining, so I may always have been destined to work in the ground!

Don’t be put off by some of the preconceptions or stereotypes that exist about construction.  There are all sorts of roles available for a whole range of skill sets.

Where did you undertake your education and what route did you follow?

Tim:  I went to Southampton University and studied a Masters Degree in Civil Engineering with Engineering Management. Most of the university courses I applied for were for Mechanical Engineering, but ultimately, I chose Civil Engineering after visiting the university and meeting the lecturers, and I’ve never regretted that decision!

Before university I also took a year out to teach English and IT, to adults, in a small town in Mozambique.  The challenge of independently travelling, learning a new language, and starting to teach adults, while only being an 18-year-old myself, really gave me a lot of confidence and appreciate the many different ways we can communicate.

Which company did you begin your career with?

Tim:  I was very fortunate to be matched for sponsorship during my first year at university with Abbey Pynford. I worked between semesters for them and on completion of my  course, I was offered a role with the company.

I started as a Contracts Engineer, managing piled raft underpinning projects to residential properties throughout the South East and after a few years moved onto managing retro-fit basement projects to high value properties in central London.  Later I moved into an Estimating role, pricing up new projects and winning work. I found providing clients with solutions to technical issues really satisfying, although I lost count of the number of basements I built in my head only for them never to be realised.

Towards the end of my 14-year period at Abbey Pynford, I moved into a senior management role encompassing Business Development and Marketing, while also running the Estimating team.

How long have you been with Bachy Soletanche and what roles have you held in the company?

Tim:  I’m rapidly approaching the end of my second year with Bachy Soletanche and the position of Pre-Construction and New Business Manager.  The title is a bit of a mouthful, but my role covers business development and links closely with marketing and estimating. I focus on communicating and developing relationships with clients, consultants, suppliers and potential joint venue partners to ensure that we are providing value at Pre-Construction phases of work.

Involvement of a geotechnical specialist at an early stage will bring a significant amount of experience from past projects along with the latest innovations in their field.

Your role focuses on pre-construction and developing new business, how important is it to have strong relationships with the supply chain when winning, and then ultimately delivering work?

Tim:  As with most construction businesses, much of the quantum of a project will come through suppliers, both materials and plant.  In our case we use a lot of concrete and reinforcement from a range of close suppliers along with specialist equipment from our fantastic plant yard.

Our clients are typically looking for a high quality, technically robust and efficient solution from us and without having close ties with our supply chain we would not be able to provide them the confidence that we could deliver these.

It’s worth remembering that supply chains work in both directions, that our clients need us to provide them with a great service in the same way that we need our suppliers to do the same.

Early contractor involvement undoubtedly brings benefits to a scheme, how early should a project get a geotechnical specialist involved and what strengths can they bring?

Tim:  I don’t think that there is a single answer to this, very much like working in the ground, each project will come with its own unique challenges.  I regularly talk with consulting engineers and there is no doubt that their experience and knowledge can go a long way for many projects, but when something unusual comes up, or someone just wants a sense check, we are very happy to have a conversation.

Involvement of a geotechnical specialist at an early stage will bring a significant amount of experience from past projects along with the latest innovations in their field, but the key strength will be that they have their eye on the delivery of a project, ensuring that it is safe and practical to build with a reasonable budget and programme.  This should be a key for clients; to get an understanding of these factors at an early stage of a project.

Bachy Soletanche support clients and consultants when considering land purchase, through planning, cost plans, feasibility studies and any stage of design development. What we can offer is the ability to bring experience from across our group of companies for the complete progression of works in the ground (site investigation through to completed foundations) and some of the most innovative solutions backed by solid foundations (excuse the pun).

 Thank you for your time, just before you go, what advice would you give to anyone wanting to get into the construction industry?

Tim:  Don’t be put off by some of the preconceptions or stereotypes that exist about construction.  There are all sorts of roles available for a whole range of skill sets.  As an industry, we have acknowledged that we need more diversity and are working to address this.

More generally, if you are not sure what you want to do, Engineering can be a great profession to study as there are so many transferable skills.