"we’re doing work that presents a continual challenge in our day-to-day job. It’s good to be continually learning."
What are some of the challenges in marine projects you enjoy tackling?
In the marine we are always working in challenging situations. We’re in a dynamic environment, we’ve got waves, often poor ground conditions, scour, tidal lag and aggressive marine environmental conditions. It means that our work is always varied and that every project has its own unique challenges which is crucial to keeping us engaged. It isn’t always easy to work in the marine world, but I think that engineers enjoy being out of our comfort zone.
We work on a wide range of schemes including complex temporary works such as a 100t travelling piling gate that we designed for Colne Valley Viaduct, to major permanent works, such as the Dover Western Docks Revival. On this project I was part of the design team which developed innovative solutions maximising the use of precast concrete and construction sequencing to build a 500m long pier.
There are different risks associated with marine projects; it is crucial to have very close engagement with our contractor partners because collaboration on construction methodology, for example maximising use of land-based plant, or controlling sequencing to minimise the required temporary works, can be the difference in whether or not we win schemes.
Does working in marine restrict you to a narrow range of projects?
Absolutely not, when we say “marine”, this covers anything where we’re working near water.
There is a tendency to think marine refers entirely to the sea and perhaps think that what the marine group undertakes is more akin to coastal engineering. We do work on the coast, but we also work on inland waterways, locks, reservoirs, and increasingly inland and coastal wetlands.
Major port developments inevitably require links to all forms of infrastructure with similar engineering challenges as encountered in other sectors of civil engineering. So, working in marine isn’t an area that focusses on a narrow field, we work widely across the country on a broad range of schemes.
How have your colleagues made you feel supported in your work?
We’re a good team. The core of the team is well established and have been at Tony Gee for a long time. We’ve recruited well and have a strong enthusiastic group who are eager to expand the team and continue to work on exciting, technically complex projects. We’ve got a supportive atmosphere, it’s a collaborative environment, everyone’s there to help and reach the end goal.
What attracted you to Tony Gee?
It was the complexity of the projects. When you google civil and structural engineering, you inevitably see a lot larger names and flagship projects with relatively generic descriptions and then I saw Tony Gee, which wasn’t one I was quite so familiar with.
The work that Tony Gee does is unusual in that it is dominated by complex work, and we are unafraid of temporary works. It’s not a company that employs 10,000+ people where some of the work you’ll be on will be very good and a lot of the work will be more mundane and lower risk. The work Tony Gee was doing throughout was highly technical and that’s exactly where I wanted to be.
What has made you stay?
Tony Gee is small enough to have that small company feel within our teams, without having some of the negatives of the large companies and how they run things, so you aren’t a number, and we do good, interesting work.
The truth is that the reason we have staff retention is because we’re doing work that presents a continual challenge in our day-to-day job. It’s good to be continually learning. As nice as it may be in the short term to get comfortable doing repetitive or simple work, I’d rather be working on interesting schemes, and this is something that the variety of work at Tony Gee offers.
Marine is perhaps a good example of that; everything that we do engages with other structures and other interfaces so that there’s a very wide breadth of knowledge.
It can be a challenge at times, but you get the reward at the end. We are pursuing increasingly bigger and better opportunities. Ten years ago, we were specialised in doing complex temporary works within the marine world. We’re still doing the complex temporary works, but now we’re also looking at international work for some of the largest ports in the world as our future market because we’ve developed that capability and that’s quite an exciting place to be.