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Chartered Engineer (CEng)

Peter Small BSc (Hons) NECReg CEng MICE MInstRE

Published: 17/07/2023

Education and qualifications:
BSc (Hons) Civil Engineering, Leeds Metropolitan University
HNC Civil and Structural Engineering, University of Bradford

Job title:
Commercial and Contracts Manager

Jacobs UK Ltd





What inspired you to become an engineer or pointed you towards an engineering career?
I think it was always inevitable. From an early age my parents would note that if my brother and I wanted to work out how something worked, he would read about it in a book, whereas I would take it apart and  try to  hopefully reassemble it. I have always wanted to end up in a career where I could utilise that inquisitive and practical nature.

Please describe your role or position within your workplace.
Much of my role is acting as a NEC (formerly known as New Engineering Contract) Project Manager on behalf of clients, managing their construction contracts. I work with the client, contractors and my team to deliver what are predominantly new highways projects. It’s a blend of problem solving and contract management.

Can you describe a typical working day?
Every day is different, especially with the impacts of Covid-19 and inflation costs within the industry. The last couple of years have been varied, with managing a couple of site projects, new challenges and opportunities present themselves daily, if not hourly. Rather than expecting to solve everything myself, my target is always to know the correct question to ask of the right person and to be able to relay the answer back to the people it will benefit most.

Are there any particular challenges or unusual aspects to your role?
My role requires a mixture of engineering, project management and law, which sometimes conflict with each other. It’s also sometimes tricky to stay impartial with ever-diminishing budgets and margins putting pressure on all parties under the contract.

What do you find most enjoyable about your job?
I really enjoy seeing the designs being built and being part of that problem-solving process when things aren’t quite as expected.

Is there a great professional achievement or high-profile accomplishment that you would like to tell us about?
I still remember the immense pride I felt when I saw my first bridge design constructed. It was wider than it was long and only spanned a small brook, but seeing it finished made all the hours worth it. More recently, I was part of a small group who drafted the NEC Competency Framework, which is designed to help people progress and develop in an NEC career. This is an accomplishment I am really proud of and I hope to see it benefit those in the industry.

What contributed to your decision to become professionally registered?
As someone who dipped out of their first degree attempt, getting professionally registered as an Engineering Technician (EngTech) was such an important thing for me to get back on my chosen career path and become qualified as an engineer. Subsequently, achieving Incorporated Engineer (IEng) and Chartered Engineer (CEng) were just a continuation of that process.

In what ways has registration benefitted your career?
At each level registration has brought me greater confidence and has demonstrated my professional commitment and ability, and in doing so has allowed me to progress my career.

How does your employer benefit from your professional registration?
It is a lot easier tendering for new work when you have Chartered Engineers in your team, and it has allowed me to be eligible for more roles with existing clients. Professional registration also allows the company’s training scheme to be registered as we have enough professional engineers to provide mentoring and input.

Is there any advice you would pass on to someone considering professional registration?
If you are thinking about professional registration, just do it. There are loads of different ways of achieving it depending on where you are in your career. It can seem like a massive undertaking to start off with, but when broken down into manageable chunks you really do hit your stride. The process also helps to broaden your perspective and open up new adventures for you.

Where do you see yourself in your career in five years’ time or what are your future ambitions?
I’m hoping to pretty much be doing what I’m doing now, just a bit better at it and with five years more experience under my belt. I’ll be looking to be a Supervising Civil Engineer and doing more with the Institution of Royal Engineers (InstRE), helping them where I can.

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?
I’m a Delegated Engineer and a Reviewer for the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE). I’ve recently had a lot of fun sending progress reports and information about the bridges being built on my sites to my son’s primary class, as they had started their own bridge building projects .

Do you identify as disabled, or as a member of a minority or under-represented group? Would you like to comment on what impact or influence you feel this has had upon your career?
Having Dyslexia, I often find I have a slightly different perspective to others when looking at situations. The need for process and structure helps me as a designer to do structural calculations and as a Contracts Manager it helps me to follow the workings of a contract. The only thing left to work on is my note taking and filing.