Show Form

News search

News Menu:

Sign up to our Engage eNewsletter

Chartered Engineer (CEng)

Ben Hawkins BEng (Hons) MSc (BHam) MSc (Cran) CEng IEng MIET MInstRE

Published: 06/10/2023

Education and qualifications:

MSc Battlespace Technology, Cranfield University
MSc Construction Management, The University of Birmingham
BEng (Hons) Civil Engineering, The University of Birmingham

Job title:
Partner & Director of Advisory

CHC Global





What inspired you to become an engineer or pointed you towards an engineering career?
My uncle was a civil engineer and I loved the way that he seemed to be able to fix anything, so I decided that I would become a civil engineer.

Please describe your role or position within your workplace.
As the  Director of Advisory at CHC Global, I lead the assessment of risk for client built assets. In the insurance sector, this element of advisory/consultancy work is known as ‘risk engineering’. We work with many clients from public and private sectors to help them to understand their risk exposure, and then to advise upon it, including how to treat or transfer the risk. Volatile global conditions mean that there is much risk to seek to understand.

Can you describe a typical working day?
The vast majority of my working days are spent in one of the CHC Global offices. That said, I have some travel, often international, where I help clients at their sites, undertaking safety and security audits, and advising them on their risk exposure. The variety of places where I work all have different risk profiles, so being able to advise on these, and to help the sites to deliver the best possible experience for their users keeps me engaged and challenged. Most of my site visits are in 'consultancy suit' though, but I do have a construction task coming up, where I’ll need to reach back for my construction experience, and Hi-Viz jacket!

Are there any particular challenges or unusual aspects to your role?
Working in the insurance sector was totally new to me when I started nearly two years ago. Understanding the perils, as a consultant, from the insurance perspective is a unique and challenging position to be in. Then, to apply them in an engineering context, normally to built assets, is a fascinating opportunity. As with many other sectors, insurance and risk are seeking to become more digital, so I enjoy the opportunity to drive effective digital collaboration and automation into everything that I do.

What do you find most enjoyable about your job?
My perspective and experience in the sector appears to be relatively unique, so being able to help clients with novel, and often wicked, problems is enjoyable. When it comes to safety and security, being able to offer feedback, that I am able to witness being rectified in due course is incredibly rewarding.

Is there a great professional achievement or high-profile accomplishment that you would like to tell us about?
Earlier in my career I was a Royal Engineer Bomb Disposal Officer and had the privilege to serve around the world, making a difference to peoples’ lives. On my last deployment (2012) I was the Officer Commanding of the UK Operations Squadron of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) and Search Task Force (STF). Our role was to clear the battlespace of unexploded ordnance to allow life to return to normal in Afghanistan. The exceptionally dangerous nature of the battlefield meant that our adversary was exceptionally innovative in their approach to placing devices which endangered life and limb. Technology played a significant part in defeating that threat and my role was to integrate the equipment to save our Armed Forces and the people of Afghanistan, in the face of the enemy. For my work I was awarded the Worshipful Company of Engineers’ Royal Engineers Operations Engineering Award in 2013.

What contributed to your decision to become professionally registered?
While at the University of Birmingham, I had aspirations towards becoming a Chartered Engineer (CEng) relatively soon after graduation, but  having joined the Army, my career path deviated significantly after qualifying as a Bomb Disposal Officer. With significant conflicts underway in Iraq and Afghanistan, coupled with the increased threat from terrorism on the UK mainland, I found myself exceptionally busy in my first years as an engineer.

Once the Institution of Royal Engineers (InstRE) was able to award professional registration, a number of my soldiers gained registration. As a leader it was essential that I set the example, so I applied for Engineering Technician (EngTech) and then Incorporated Engineer (IEng) on the way to gaining CEng.

In what ways has registration benefitted your career?
On leaving the military, it can be difficult to capture those rich experiences and to share them in a way that the layman can understand. Gaining CEng status offered me an excellent opportunity to reflect on my career to date, to collect evidence of my competence and have it recognised through an internationally renowned accreditation.

How does your employer benefit from your professional registration?
Working in a risk advisory consultancy, I have been able to lead the development of technology risk management products for clients, as well as to contribute to direct sales using my knowledge, skills and experience as a CEng. My professional registration also marks CHC Global as a professional and credible partner to other, often much larger, consultancies with who we could work, and bring our specialist knowledge.

Is there any advice you would pass on to someone considering professional registration?
While registration may, initially, seem daunting, with the right mentor you will be able to break your application into achievable chunks at the right level, allowing you not only to reflect upon and to demonstrate your professional achievements, but to also to recognise areas for development for the next stage in your learning journey!

Where do you see yourself in your career in five years’ time or what are your future ambitions?
After a significant career pivot into the insurance sector, all that I can predict is my desire to continue with life-long learning and growth. Who knows what will come next?

Outside work, is there any activity you enjoy doing in your spare time that relates to engineering? For example, do you participate in mentoring, volunteering or membership of other engineering groups?
Not anymore. Despite having done very little civil engineering, I still enjoy bridge spotting!