Today we are speaking with Nick Day, who has been with LCA Group for over 14 years. He was recently promoted to Senior Project Manager, so we scheduled a Teams call so that we could discuss his career to date:
Nick, tell us how you started your career with LCA and where you are now?
I joined LCA in 2007 on an Industrial Electricians Apprenticeship through JTL and carried out a 4-year apprenticeship. Two thirds of the way through I was offered to take my AM2 test early which effectively allowed me to complete my apprenticeship six months ahead of schedule. Luckily I did pass, and I was offered my first job role with LCA Group as an electrician on various sites across the UK. Since then, I have developed my career working as a design engineer, project engineer and more recently I moved into project management.
I was recently promoted to Senior Project Manager, which means I will be looking after larger value projects, overseeing a small team of project managers who are responsible for the planning and project delivery, cost control and day to day resource management. As per my previous role, I will still maintain client interaction and financial control of projects but will have a team to support me.
What qualifications have you achieved since joining LCA in 2007?
I have been very fortunate that LCA Group have supported me through the following:
- City & Guilds Electrical Installation Apprenticeship
- AM2 Electricians qualification
- NVQ Level 2 & 3
- Electrical & Mechanical National Certificate
- HNC Electrical Engineering
- Electrical Engineering Degree with John Moores University
These skills and qualifications have enabled me to develop my skills and progress my career over the past 14 years. I do believe that starting out as an Electrician gave me a good knowledge base, and as I have progressed into Project Management, I understand the time required for tasks and the specific requirements needed to complete the job. This ultimately makes my job as a Project Manager much easier.
What motivated you into an Engineering career?
When I was younger, I was a very practical child, I loved motor cross bikes and working out how to fix them, so there has always been a natural interest in mechanics, electrics and how things fit together.
At 16, I decided not to stay in school for sixth form, I was keen to get out into the real world and learn a trade, so I started applying for apprenticeships and was fortunate to come across LCA Group.
I found the advantage of working for a smaller business were the opportunities which it gave me; during my apprenticeship I was able to get involved with many aspects of engineering and find the elements which really appealed. Paul Griffiths has always been an amazing support who has encouraged my development.
Can you recount any interesting or unusual jobs you have been involved in over your 14 years with LCA?
The most unpleasant job I have ever worked on is probably when LCA were completing an upgrade of electrical services to a waste water treatment site. We were working very close to the waste and the smell was horrendous. We did have an incident where the pump failed, it broke off and covered our tools in waste debris.
One of the hardest jobs I have been involved with is within the food industry; we had a client who had closed one of their manufacturing facilities in Europe and moved it over to the UK. They had a very tight deadline of when the assembly line needed to restart due to the stock product running out. However, the scope of the project kept increasing and whilst this is normal, we were not able to extend the completion deadline date. It was challenging as we had to operate at such a fast pace, introducing a 24-hour operation with shift teams and increasing the team from 8 to 40 people. In the end, with an amazing team effort from the engineers on site, we did manage to deliver on time and the client was very happy. It felt great to be able to successfully hand over such a high pressure project.
What impact has Covid had on your work, how have you managed your team?
When Covid first hit 95% of projects were halted as no one really knew what to do, we had never had a situation like this before, so most clients just paused projects following the government guidelines. That meant that most of my team were furloughed, so I worked alongside HR to manage the process.
Sites opened back up once Covid safe working environments had been established, but this has had a knock-on effect as we now work with reduced capacity due to number restrictions, and we have had to manage supply chain issues where Covid has caused delays. We have also implemented weekly testing of all our operators which everyone has embraced. All these changes are things which we have never had to consider before so we are constantly learning on the job and adapting as regulations are updated, and ultimately, we try and minimise any impact this might have to the client.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of a career within engineering?
Engineering is an excellent career if you like a challenge, every project is different, and you are there to find a solution to a problem. Its an environment where things are always changing and at times you can be working under quite high pressure as you try and meet client deadlines and expectations.
However, it is also a really rewarding career, it feels great when you solve a complex problem and it is always a nice feeling when you get positive feedback from clients.
If you like being hands-on, it is a career path to consider.