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A day in the life of our Head of Secure Construction

At FCDO Services, our teams play a vital role in supporting the diplomatic service and keeping our country safe and secure. This National Careers Week, we’ve been highlighting the variety of careers and opportunities we have on offer across our organisation.

One area you might not know much about is secure construction. We recently interviewed the head of the department to find out more about this important service we provide.

What’s your job title and how long have you been at FCDO Services?

I’m Head of Secure Construction and I’ve been with FCDO Services for 15 years. I started as a carpenter and have worked my way up within the organisation over the years. I now manage a team of carpenters and designers who are responsible for the design and build of secure environments.

Can you tell us a bit about your role at FCDO Services? What is a typical day like for you?

I tend to start the day checking my emails. As many of my team can be deployed overseas at any given time, I check that no issues have been raised and the projects are on track. I then work on my ongoing projects. Usually, I’m the Lead Designer on a number of new Missions and Embassies, which involves coordinating with our Project Manager, FCDO Project Directors and design teams to progress the design and ensure quality throughout the build. With smaller design projects, I will be involved in the initial stakeholder engagement and requirements and then will pass it over to my team to develop the design. I also undertake overseas surveys to provide customers with cost-effective solutions to any requirements they have.

What do you enjoy most about your job? What inspired you to work here?

I enjoy the variety of the work we do. Although there are some similarities from job to job, no two projects are the same. The size and complexity of projects change, the locations can be challenging and working with colleagues to overcome these obstacles and help protect the UK’s assets and interests overseas gives me a rewarding sense of satisfaction.

What skills or qualities do you need to be successful in your role and what tips would you give to someone pursuing a career at FCDO Services?

Be positive and pro-active. The learning and development opportunities here are great, I am a key example of that. FCDO Services funded my HNC (Higher National Certificate) and degree in Construction Management. I’ve also received exceptional support and development from other professionals within the organisation. No one will do it for you but there are plenty who will support and help you, if you are willing to put the effort in.

What are some of the challenges you face?

There are challenges in this role but you’re supported throughout. These challenges could be changing priorities due to the overseas environment, locations with travel restrictions or logistical restrictions on getting equipment to Post. Another challenge is designing and planning construction projects from the UK which will be carried out thousands of miles away. FCDO Services has a large support network of staff both in the UK and overseas and it’s important to work together to achieve the desired outcome.

What is the project that you have been most proud of working on?

Too many to pick just one. I have been involved in small projects where you really are protecting the UK’s assets overseas (such as in Moscow, Beijing and Tripoli) to larger, new build projects where you’re involved in building an Embassy from the ground up.

Can you name a leader/expert in your field that inspires you and tell us why?

Outside of work, I have been inspired by Dame Judith Hackitt and the changes to Building Safety which have been introduced as a result of her report following the Grenfell tragedy. Safety is something I feel very strongly about and typically change in the construction industry is fairly slow to be adopted. The improvements being made in this area because of the report are revolutionary.

Curious to find out more about what it’s like to work at FCDO Services? Browse our latest vacancies or sign up to job alerts.

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