Education and qualifications:
MEng (Hons) Fire Engineering, University of Central Lancashire (UCLan)
BSc (Hons) Physiotherapy, University of East London.
Maze Fire Consulting
What inspired you to become an engineer or pointed you towards an engineering career?
I was an operational fire officer who was looking to move into a different role within the fire service. I was successful the second time of asking to study Fire Engineering at the University of Central Lancashire, which I felt was a natural progression in my career. I had been fortunate to experience practical and theoretical engineering principles within the fire service, but the opportunity to study at university deepened my knowledge.
Please describe your role or position within your workplace
I am a Principal Consultant working at a newly formed consultancy. My role is quite varied because we are a consultancy that provides fire engineering and fire consultancy services to all sectors of the built environment.
I am part of the management team, which involves planning the future workload and direction of the company. As a Principal Consultant my time will be split between site work, report writing, managing projects, and reviewing work – either other people’s reports or fee proposals. I also support our junior consultants.
Can you describe a typical working day?
One of the things I enjoy is that there is no typical day. I work remotely so my “office days” will usually begin with the gym and/or the school run before getting to my desk at about 08:30. I may have a day where I am buried in report writing all day or I could be in and out of client meetings.
Alternatively, I may have a day on-site to become familiar with a new project, reviewing external walls or carrying out fire risk assessments. I try to limit my site days so that I am rarely away from home for more than one night a week. I enjoy working on-site so travel is a part of my job which must be embraced.
Are there any particular challenges or unusual aspects to your role?
In the fire safety industry, we are constantly challenged to ensure that our knowledge is at the forefront of the current developments so that our clients receive the best advice possible. Keeping abreast of all the latest developments whilst achieving deadlines can create time pressure but fortunately, I enjoy maintaining my knowledge. It can also be a challenge to know when you have reached the extent of your knowledge and have the confidence to take advice from a colleague.
What do you find most enjoyable about your job?
I enjoy getting onsite and meeting clients. I am very happy when I must work out how the fire safety elements of a building were designed, which normally occurs when the fire safety strategy is unavailable. As part of this, I love taking junior consultants out to sites to give them first-hand experience of the built environment.
Is there a great professional achievement or high-profile accomplishment that you would like to tell us about?
Without a doubt, completing my MEng at the University of Central Lancashire while working full-time is my greatest professional achievement. It was a real family project, because it required the support of everyone at home as I was much less available during that period. I’m happy to say that my career has been catapulted forward due to my studies and work ethic, so the study period feels like a very worthy investment in my career and family’s future.
What contributed to your decision to become professionally registered?
From early on in my studies at University of Central Lancashire I have had the goal of becoming a Chartered Engineer (CEng). This contributed to the decision to transfer from the BEng course to the integrated MEng, which is accredited by the Institution of Fire Engineers (IFE) and Engineering Council towards CEng professional registration.
I also knew from my time in the fire service that it is difficult for clients to decipher who has the necessary competence to complete their requirements. The obvious way to demonstrate your competence is to put yourself through an external assessment process to achieve registration. I applied for Engineering Technician (EngTech) registration as soon as I left the fire service and then Incorporated Engineer (IEng) once I received my degree certificate.
In addition to professional competency, I also recognise the importance of being professionally registered for the code of conduct and standards of those operating in the industry. I am proud to work for a company that places such emphasis on these values.
In what ways has registration benefitted your career?
The obvious benefit is that my clients and peers can demonstrably see that I have been assessed by industry professionals and that I have demonstrated suitable competence to be registered as IEng. This gives me more confidence, especially when meeting industry professionals for the first time.
How does your employer benefit from your professional registration?
There are clear business benefits from professional registration, none more so than being eligible to apply for the EWS1 Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII) scheme, which has a minimum requirement of IEng registration.
More clients are asking how many Incorporated or Chartered Engineers we employ when we are invited to tender for projects. My registration as IEng gives the company a significant boost in the process.
Is there any advice you would pass on to someone considering professional registration?
I have used the registration process as a career ladder tool over the last few years. Having regular goals has kept me focussed on the type of projects I’m working on and the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) opportunities I seek out.
Anyone in the early part of their career should look to apply for professional registration as soon as they are able. Don’t wait until you are on the wrong side of 40 with three kids like me, as life only gets busier!
Where do you see yourself in your career in five years’ time or what are your future ambitions?
I really enjoy developing and managing junior staff, so I see that as a natural progression in my career. Of course, the next career milestone I am working towards is CEng status.
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 have just undertaken the initial training with the Institution of Fire Engineers to be one of the peer assessors assisting in the IEng application process. I am pleased to be able to give some time back to a process and accreditation that has greatly progressed my career.
I also recently joined the IFE Heritage special interest group because I absolutely love working with older buildings. They require a very sympathetic and thoughtful approach to their fire safety strategy in order to ensure that their history is preserved from fire damage