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Ismail is one of our aspiring graduate engineers, who joined our South East Division just a year ago. Here he shares his experience of working with our Gatwick Airport team.

Ismail’s experience

My name is Ismail and I studied Civil Engineering at University of East London where I graduated with a BEng first class honours.

I joined Knights Brown in February 2017 as a graduate engineer working at Gatwick Airport. I first came across Knights Brown as a company after reading construction enquirer Top Ten award winners, where Knights Brown was featured as the best main contractor to work for with a turnover of £50m-£250m. This prompted me to find out more about the company and I found myself in a situation where the more I knew about the company, the more enticed I was about the idea of working for them.

My first few days at Knights Brown were most memorable. On my first day I was taken on a tour around the Ringwood office where the head office support services and Southern Division are based. I was introduced to everyone. Shortly after that, I was given an opportunity to sit in a meeting that was taking place in the board room. This immediately made me feel valued and part of the team.

After having my induction at Ringwood, I had my first official start at Gatwick office the following day where I was set a simple task of familiarising myself with the procedures of both Gatwick Airport and Knights Brown. Working at the airport was a whole new experience for me and this exercise was very useful as it prepared me to undertake works at the airport. This was particularly important when I was assigned my first job, where I stepped up and replaced the engineer who at the time, was having difficulty operating a Total station that was provided to him. As I was now familiar with the procedures, I was able to continue this work and finish marking out all the services in accordance to Gatwick’s procedure for working near underground services.

During my time here, I have been encouraged and have actively participated in all aspects of a project. One aspect that I notably find interesting, which I don’t get heavily involved in, is tendering. When we are tendering for a job, I usually get assigned the task of calculating quantities, which are in turn used to send out enquiries to subcontractors. What I have come to realise is that when I am working on tenders, I am able to use all the knowledge I have acquired throughout my degree and implement them in real life situations. Working on tenders has broadened my horizon and I now have a better understanding and appreciate the effort it takes to win a project.

The first project I worked on at Gatwick was for the pier 1 baggage handlers’ accommodation, which is one of four projects that have been successfully undertaken by Knights Brown. This project was to construct a new drainage system to service the new baggage handlers’ accommodation. There were many challenges encountered during the construction phase. In particular, the number of unknown anomalies that were picked up on the GPR survey.  A valuable lesson that I have learned from this is how quickly things can change and the implication this can have on the cost and the programme. Furthermore, I have come to realise the importance of record keeping, especially when you are faced with uncertainties, a good site record will demonstrate the work that you have carried out and will make a huge difference in terms of payment.

Overall my experience at Knights Brown has been excellent, I am enjoying my time here and everyone makes it a wonderful place to work. Knights Brown has taught me a lot and I look forward to contributing to the success of this company.

Further reading

You can read about others’ experiences of working with us in our blog.