After leaving the world of banking, Thorsten Wilcox pursued his passion: the construction industry. Since joining Morrison Utility Services, he has graduated in Construction Management as well as becoming Chartered with the Institute of Building. Find out why he loves working in the industry and why he is keen to attract the next generation of engineers!
I am a Senior Project Manager at Morrison Utility Services working on Extra High Voltage electricity projects all over East Anglia.
Why is your role important?
As a Project Manager I coordinate information between site teams and the office. I make sure the teams on site have the information they need to do the job or know where to find it. This information can include plans, ground information, construction drawings, project budgets and contract documents.
I also manage project resources and schedules. Essentially I do a good job if our projects are as safe as possible and as efficient as possible. It is down to me to drive the productivity of our teams.
Our sector is at the cutting edge of government policy on sustainable energy. The network operators need to build an energy infrastructure which can manage energy generated by a variety of different sources. There have been recent announcements the development of battery storage for example which we are involved in and MUS has worked on solar farm connection projects for many years now. I would like to think that our work is helping to ensure energy security for future generations through the kit and infrastructure which we build.
"Construction has always been my passion and in my role now I can offer guidance, influence plans and help to shape our approach."
Which parts of the job do you enjoy most and find most rewarding?
I love problem solving and achieving the best possible outcome. I enjoy helping colleagues and our clients achieve their aims and if that means researching and identifying an alternative construction method which hasn’t been thought of then so much the better! I appreciate the sense of building something or installing a bit of kit which makes the network function better. It’s a fascinating process and highly rewarding to see through from start to finish.
What path did you use to get the position you hold today?
I joined MUS as a trainee Quantity Surveyor and was given the opportunity to study for a degree while I worked. I studied Construction Management and graduated in 2005. Following that I became a Project Manager in 2007 then became Chartered with the Institute of Building in 2012. After that I progressed to Senior Project Manager and became a Member of the Association of Project Management. Despite many milestones, it doesn’t feel like it’s taken a long time to get here.
What did you do before?
I started my working life in banking in branch and in a call centre for Natwest. I worked for Natwest for two to three years before deciding the sales environment was not for me. Both career paths are beyond compare really. Construction has always been my passion and in my role now I can offer guidance, influence plans and help to shape our approach. I enjoy mentoring junior colleagues and I am really keen to attract the next generation of engineers into utilities which is why I also volunteer as a STEM Ambassador in schools.
"I was lucky to have been given lots of opportunities but I would say once you’re in the door, your career is what you make of it, there are so many opportunities."
Has it met or exceeded your expectations?
Simply: yes. Construction is fascinating. The industry moves at a fast pace driven by innovations in processes and technology. It never fails to thrill me that we can fit kit which would fill two football pitches in to modest two storey substation building. The industry takes all sorts of people to make it work. If you have the right mentality to success you will always find a role in it. We do need more women though!
What advice would you give to the people reading this article who want to work in a similar field?
Explore apprenticeships and graduate programmes. I was lucky to have been given lots of opportunities but I would say once you’re in the door, your career is what you make of it, there are so many opportunities. Being able to work in a team is important as is being methodical and organised. Working with high voltage electricity means safety is everything.
Show a determination to do anything and say “yes” when offered a new experience. I have done that and it’s led me to achieve a great deal. Thinking about the way you come across and interact with people is important; confidence is important if you want to be considered for development so believe in yourself even if it’s a bit daunting at times.