Focus on…. Contracts Manager

Celebrating the breadth of jobs available in the construction industry we will be publishing a series of articles, each focusing on a different role. Today’s focus is on the role of a Contracts Manager.

Richie Carter is a Contracts Manager who has been with Beard since October 2005.

I asked him  some questions about his career within construction.

 

How long have you been in the industry?

I have been in the industry since I joined Beard in October 2005.

 

How did you get into construction?

Initially I went off to university  with the intention of becoming a Chiropractor, however, I very quickly realised that this was not for me and left to work as an office manager in a law firm.

My dad and brother were both in the industry and both worked at Beard. Alan Beard, who was then responsible for the trainee programme at Beard, saw my CV and I was interviewed for the job by Dean Averies and John Youle who then offered me the job.   I have to say that Alan’s delivery of the trainee programme was second to none.  He was incredibly committed and focused on ensuring that we learned everything we possibly could .  He would sit  down and ask  what I felt I should be learning about that I had not yet learned – and would then go about ensuring that gap in my knowledge was rectified!

 

What sort of things does your job entail?

The Contracts Manager’s job is to oversee the delivery of the project, to ensure the team is working together correctly, to fill in whenever necessary,  ensuring and managing a strong customer relationship.

The daily work is extremely varied, with no two days being the same; you could be writing a programme or doing some design management,  marking up drawings or dealing with health and safety matters or carrying out a health and safety visit.  In between these tasks I work through the items in my inbox  and support the team, picking up jobs where necessary to support various members of the team.

 

What training has your job entailed?

I learnt a lot on the job. I was lucky enough to learn a great deal from those I have worked with.  I started as a trainee QS and worked alongside Dean Averies, who is now the Oxford Director as well as various others over the years .  I worked on a hotel, a college and a very special private house.  I was made up to Lead QS a couple of years ago , then took on some design management before taking on Contracts Manager duties.

I  attended college and university on day release, all supported by Beard.  I did an ONC and an  HNC before going on to do a BSc in Quantity Surveying and Commercial Management.

 

What skills/qualities do you think you need to be a good Contracts Manager?

I think you need to be prepared to have difficult conversations but remember to be information led – there are two sides to every story.

 

What do you like most about your job?

 

I like the fact that every day is different and I am not at a desk in an office all the time. I like the diversity of people that you get to meet.

 

Are there any projects that have stood out in your career so far?

There are three projects that have stood out for me so far:

  • Great Oaks County House, which was a private house I worked on, requiring an outstanding quality of finish
  • Ripon College – which was actually two projects – the award-winning Bishop King Chapel and Harriet Monsell House
  •  Nazrin Shah,  for  Worcester college, a high-quality centre for the lucrative Oxford conferencing market

 

Do you feel that the industry has changed since you joined?

Yes, and I think the industry is still changing. The focus is much stronger on the Health and Safety aspects now which is a really positive move.

There are also  far fewer craftsmen than there were, which I think is the biggest challenge  facing the industry. We are facing a real skills shortage in the traditional trades such as bricklayers, carpenters and plasters.

 

Would you recommend Beard as an employer?

Yes  – particularly for school leavers or graduates looking to develop on the job.

 

What do you think we can do to deal with the skills shortage in the construction industry?

It’s really difficult to address because the reputation of “builders” is as the ones who didn’t try very hard at school. The things that skilled tradesman can do requires a mixture of intelligence and lateral thinking. Very rarely are two scenarios in commercial construction exactly the same and the ability to think that through and apply your skillset in the right way to any situation is the very definition of intelligence. Until that message starts to get through to a generation who have grown up being told that “University is best” the situation will not improve.

A lack of skilled tradesman now will also impact the skillset of tradesman in the future as the quality of on-site education through working with more experienced colleagues will be diluted.

We also need to educate people to get people into an industry that they don’t even know exists. There is more to construction than just a building site!

 

What would you say to anyone considering a career in construction?

I would say it’s a good idea – but it’s hard work. It can be rewarding, everything you build has a function and makes someone’s life better.

If you have enjoyed this article then please do check out the articles on a Quantity Surveyor and Project Manager by clicking on the links.  If you are interested in a career with us then check out our careers page here or contact mailto:[email protected] mentioning this article.

 

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