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Engineering colleague

“I’ve actually worked my way up through FCO Services. I started as a Carpenter/Builder, and I did that for four years, before moving and being promoted into an Engineering role, and I’m now a Senior Construction Design Engineer.

My role is that, from the beginning of a construction project, I work with the customer and with our Architects to establish the level of security needed for each site, and make sure everything is in place to achieve that.

I look at our plans to check that all the right walls and access points are in place, and I make sure that the embassy or the high commission or the secure government site we’re building is absolutely airtight. 

I work with the customer and with our Architects to establish the level of security needed for each site, and make sure everything is in place to achieve that.

It’s a brilliant role for travel, and on that, I’ve been everywhere from a boat trip round Ha Long Bay in Vietnam, to overseeing a secure building fit-out in Tripoli. I’ll go on site visits and make sure set-up goes according to the plans we’ve made. Recently, as an example, I was helping set up a brand new embassy in Bangkok, overseeing the set-up of a secure floor. That was probably one of the biggest projects I’ve been involved in so far. 

I think the nature of the job, that aspect of being in some quite far-flung places, presents you with challenges you wouldn't find elsewhere. To give you an example, I was asked in my interview about what I might do if I was on location as a Carpenter, and for whatever reason, I didn’t have the kind of screws I needed to install a door. What would I do? How would I handle that, in an isolated location, when I can’t just pop to a local shop? 

We plan for every eventuality, but you always need to be prepared in case something unexpected happens. Sometimes, it needs you to bring some quite lateral, out-of-the-box thinking, as well as exceptional professional standards.

I think the nature of the job, that aspect of being in some quite far-flung places, presents you with challenges you wouldn't find elsewhere.

To help you reach those standards, you’ve got so much support to progress. I’ve been given plenty of opportunities to go on courses, for instance, to develop my skills, whether it’s gaining the Construction HNC or the NEBOSH Health and Safety diploma. There’s a real commitment to learning here.

Everyone is very friendly and approachable here too, which means you can learn from everyone. I think if I decided tomorrow I wanted to be a Clerk of Works, I’d be given the opportunity to do on-the-job training, just to see if I like it, to see if I have an aptitude. That’s the kind of place this is. You get to explore what interests you, and people support you in that. Plus, there’s such great camaraderie when you’re overseas.”