60 seconds with…Peter Kennerley

Peter Kennerley is an Associate in our Birmingham office. Having recently become a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers and registered by the Engineering Council as an Incorporated Engineer (IEng MICE), he is now working towards becoming a member of the Chartered Institute of Building. Here he tells us how his career has progressed – along with his big move to the bright lights of Birmingham (and his newfound love of Birmingham City Football Club!).

So, how did you get to where you are today? What was your career path?

I took my GCSE’s and A Levels at my local secondary school in my home town, St.Ives, Cambridgeshire. I then went to Sheffield Hallam University to study Automotive engineering. While I enjoyed my first year, especially learning how to use computer-aided design (CAD), I didn’t enjoy learning in a pure classroom-based environment. The course was also heavily focused on component-based engineering and finite element analysis which I simply didn’t find very interesting!

After my first year, I took a summer work placement at a multidisciplinary consultancy practice called Hannah Reed  in Cambridge. The practice was made up of Civil/Structural Engineers and Project Managers. I was in the Civils team and was able to get first hand experience of working in a design office and a real insight into the construction industry.

This short exposure made me decide that the construction industry was where` I wanted to be. I took the big step and withdrew from my university course and instead took a permanent position at Hannah Reed as a Junior CAD Technician on their apprenticeship training scheme. The training scheme meant I would study a Civil Engineering BSc part-time (1-day a-week) at the Anglian Ruskin University, and in the remaining 4 days I would work in the design office learning ‘on-the-job’.

I worked at Hannah Reed for six years, rising from Junior CAD technician to Graduate Engineer. I made the move to Birmingham to take a role at Atkins as a Civil Engineer, where I worked on large scale infrastructure projects. From Atkins I joined Woods Hardwick as an Associate, supporting the set up of the Birmingham office in March 2016.

From Cambridgeshire to Birmingham? What made you make the move?

I moved to Birmingham in 2013 when I joined Atkins. I grew up in a small market town so I wanted to experience living and working in a city. London was the obvious choice but its scale and the cost of living really put me off. I’d visited Birmingham a number of times before and had enjoyed the wide variety of social and cultural experiences it had to offer – so I decided to take the plunge!

I wanted to experience working for a large business and gain exposure to national and international construction projects. I later learned this was not for me as I much prefer working for a family-style, more personal company….enter Woods Hardwick!

I am continually impressed with the amount of development in Birmingham as a whole – in the six years I’ve been here, the city centre has completely transformed and is still continuing to develop. There is always something new and exciting to do. Another big draw was that even though it’s a big, busy city, there’s plenty of nearby green open space if you want to escape.

Since moving I regularly attend Birmingham City football matches with my Woods Hardwick colleagues; it was an easy decision to follow them over their lesser local rivals. After all the city is blue!

What type of projects do you get involved in and any stand out projects?

At Atkins I led a team designing the main infrastructure of a residential development of 700 dwellings and a 64 acre commercial business park in Branston, Burton upon Trent. I also worked on site as the Novated Engineer to the Principal Contractor, during the construction of the works.

Much of our business at Woods Hardwick is for national housebuilders – providing services from feasibility studies, through planning to detailed design and construction. We’ve delivered residential developments from 20 units to 600 units, providing wider enabling infrastructure and all associated on-site works.

What would you recommend to any budding engineers /surveyors? How do they stand out?

I’d encourage anyone looking to pursue a career in engineering to become a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE). The ICE offers a range of professionally recognised qualifications that can really help to boost your career prospects. Membership provides access to a wide variety of resources, including the New Civil Engineer magazine, as well as benefits and invitation to events and conferences. Committing to your own professional development not only helps you progress individually but promotes yourself as someone with commitment and a real passion for the profession.