"Since coming to Tony Gee, they’ve given me what I asked for and more."
What changes in Tony Gee have you seen over the course of your career that you believe to be a positive and necessary progress?
I’ve been with Tony Gee coming up to 9 years now and I joined from a much larger consultant. I think one of the things I’ve noticed since starting here in 2014 is that the company has grown, and the highways group has grown not just within our office but also other offices. That’s brought benefits, but also challenges in trying to manage a large group.
The benefits are obviously the more people there are within the company, the bigger the resource pool. We’re bringing in more different backgrounds, knowledge, and experience.
I think the challenge is trying to coordinate the whole group and as a result, the directors’ duties are changing. They need to pull everything together, so we’re coordinated as one front rather than lots of offices operating independently and doing their own things. So again, getting that consistency and efficiency, I think that’s the main thing really.
Coming from a larger consultancy to a smaller, what attracted you to Tony Gee?
The first thing was, I was getting to the point in my career where, I got my chartership and four years post Chartership I just wasn’t seeing any real paths to progression.
The second thing was from a technical experience perspective. I didn’t really get too much exposure on that side either, of doing actual design work for new-build bridge structures and other structures.
So, I decided to apply to other companies, and I saw Tony Gee was advertising, I thought it sounded like a good opportunity, and came for interview. Although the profile is changing somewhat now, at the time I applied the highways group basically just did all new build schemes, rather than working on existing structures and assets. That is changing now, we can’t keep building new forever.
Since coming to Tony Gee, they’ve given me what I asked for and more. The first proper scheme that I worked on was the Ely bypass, which was far, far more in excess of what I could have thought I would be working on. It threw me into the deep end.
So certainly, and there’s no looking back on it, had I stayed at my previous employer, it’s unlikely I would have got that sort of experience.
For myself, it was a really difficult decision to make, and I think this probably applies to most people, because it was the first time I’ve made a move from one company to another, having worked in the company for nine years. People should just go with their instincts, just go for it and then see how it turns out. What’s the worst that can happen?
I’m confident that if somebody is coming from a large company to a smaller company that they will certainly be learning a lot and hopefully that will give them a much more varied experience and to take on more responsibility and progress if that’s what someone’s after.
"people in Tony Gee are very, very open and welcoming to receive questions... it doesn’t matter what level people are, you can approach them without feeling intimidated."
What actions from your colleagues have made you feel the most supported in your work?
The longer you are in the same place, the more you get to work with different people, wider afield, not just from the Esher office. Since the company and the highways group has grown and in the post-covid era, people have got much more used to inter office working and members of our team are able to be based in other offices.
What’s been quite helpful is that most people, I suppose I’d like to think all people, in Tony Gee are very, very open and welcoming to receive questions. Then if they can’t help they’ll always probably know someone who can help and point you in the right direction. One of the key differences between Tony Gee and other companies is the flat management structure, meaning it doesn’t matter what level people are, you can approach them without feeling intimidated.
I think our internal communication platforms help to get people together and share knowledge and that’s been very useful.
What training courses have you undertaken at Tony Gee and how have they impacted your work?
At the moment I am going through the Director’s Development Programme which they run once a year. We’ve had two days of training already, they have them once a month, and I found that really interesting. It’s been very eye opening, and it’s been nice to get to know some of the directors from other offices in person, some of whom I have never even met or spoken to.
Because it’s an evolving course they tweak it after every session based on feedback. That’s also been quite good, because we can then sort of steer it in a direction that suits us based on whatever questions and discussions come out of the course. The idea is it has got me thinking about “what is leadership?” and “what is effective leadership?”. That’s one of the keys of this programme, they’re not there to teach you how to do it, they’re there to give you tools and information.
The homework is reading a book called Daring to Lead, which has been quite an interesting read so far. It’s about some of the ways and styles, the author believes, are beneficial in leading a group of people.
I look forward to the next session, and hopefully it will be a very useful course to then implement into my day-to-day work.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
When I joined Tony Gee I never expected to get to this level. Being at a senior management level I have the ability now to help shape how the group is run, shape how the company is run, and looking to develop others. I think these are certainly quite rewarding aspects.
I would like to spend more time developing the training material and then coordinating groups and getting things set up which I find quite rewarding from a career perspective.
Since I got chartered, I’ve been a delegate engineer and recently I went to the next step to become a SCE (Supervising Civil Engineer). For that I’ll have an annual appraisal with the candidates and sign people off so they’re ready to go for their chartership. I think it’ll be quite interesting seeing it from a different level.
The next step would be whether I would then get trained up to be an ICE reviewer. I’ve noticed in Tony Gee that there’s quite a few ICE reviewers. It’s quite a good thing because that then helps our graduates get through and know what’s expected.