Site Managers take responsibility for the detailed construction process.
Site Managers are master communicators who are hard-working and driven to ensure the construction process works efficiently.
These important construction professionals are able to adapt to the various scenarios of a construction project. They solve problems (great if you are interested in maths and logic), manage tradespeople, plan weeks in advance and pull together other construction professionals to allow a project delivery that is safe, on budget and on time.
It is true that every day is different on a construction site (and in the industry generally) and Site Managers must be dynamic and quick to respond to change in the short term i.e. day to day and in the longer term over a number of years. It is for this reason that Site Managers are some of the highest trained and qualified construction professionals who influence an entire construction process, from empty site to helping clients move into their new premises.
Story of a real Site Manager…
Like a lot of young people in the area of Leeds that I grew up in, I knew a lot of adults in the construction industry. I had grown up around sites, often sat in my father’s car beside civil engineering projects after school; he was employed as a Construction Contract Manager at the time. Despite this, construction was never my nailed on career. I was open-minded and believed my skills and interests would dictate my future. I was lucky that I was never pressured by either of my parents to choose a route into employment; they took the tact of saying that as long as I was working, honest and could support myself they would be happy. My crunch time came when I had to make a decision about my future in Year 11.
Year 11 is an important time as a young adult, as you are on the cusp of being free of compulsory education which is all you have ever known from starting school aged 5, and for me this was daunting and exciting in equal measure. I spent a lot of time thinking about what I wanted to do after school, having chosen GCSEs in subjects I felt interested me (Maths, English, Technology, Business, German, IT and History). I decided to think long term: what did I want from my career and life 10 years from now?
This aim helped me decide the right steps I’d need to take. I decided I wanted a job where I could control my working life, where I could work inside and outside as I needed, where I could communicate with all types of people and see the impact of my role every day. I wanted to be well paid, qualified and with opportunities to expand my career as far as my ambition would take me, and a Construction Management role fit those requirements.
School were disappointed when I said I wasn’t attending Sixth Form (my name was down to go to Kenya in the subsequent year which I couldn’t do if I left) but I gambled on the best way to get a construction management job was to take a construction course and left school to join Leeds College of Building on a BTEC National Diploma in Construction (similar in UCAS points as A-levels). I left 2 years later with a Distinction grade and a head start on some of my peers who had taken less specific A levels. Again, I had a choice…work or university… or both?
I chose both (who wouldn’t!?) and took a job working with a local construction company (Lotus) working in Yorkshire as a trainee after applying with lots of big construction companies. I had missed the application period for university that year; the courses were subscribed so I was accepted for the following academic year, sponsored by my employer. So here I was, 18, with a well-paid job and a sponsor for university so I didn’t have student debt. I had a great time with Lotus who helped me immeasurably.
Working with BAM Construction came out of nowhere. I had received a letter inviting me for an interview 11 months after my first application and before I started with Lotus. After a successful interview, the offer of employment was difficult to accept at the time as I was very loyal to Lotus, but I took it on the promise that I could work on a great large project in Leeds. I started University the month after starting with BAM at Leeds Met where I graduated in 2013, after a part time course of 5 years, with a First Class BSc Honours in Construction Management.
In that time, and in the last year, I have worked on some of the biggest and best projects in the North of England including Leeds Met’s Rose Bowl, Carnegie Pavilion, Scunthorpe IHSCC, Leeds Arena and more recently a collection of projects for Leeds Met at their Leeds and Headingley Campuses.
What I do
I’m a Site Manager for BAM Construction North East and I am working on a project with a wider BAM team of construction professionals, suppliers and subcontractors.
I do anything and everything to ensure the project is safe, on time and on budget. This usually means a lot of communication between people and lots of problem solving to make sure all the people involved in the process are doing what they should, but it can also mean getting my hands dirty from time to time. No day is ever the same, and the role includes a lot of responsibility and often a lot of pressure to meet deadlines.
Who can be a Site Manager?
Anyone. We have a good blend at BAM of male and female staff, people of varying backgrounds, ages and experiences. You must be able to communicate well with other people and have a range of communication skills to facilitate the site’s requirements to trades people, construction professionals and clients. You must also have a good work ethic. Hours can be long dependent on the site’s requirements. A willingness to continually learn is also important as nothing stands still on site and you cannot always know everything, sometimes you need to learn as you go. These three things combined are key to being a worthy site manager.
My view on the construction industry and why I think you should consider it
Construction is brilliant; it offers rewarding careers that are stimulating and well paid whilst creating and improving the lives of millions of people. The technology is state of the art and the industry has made great leaps to encourage and adopt more digital technology to make us even better. This presents a real opportunity for this and the next generations entering the industry.
I often meet many people not involved in construction who have a negative view of our industry, often from TV and popular perception. Us “builders” are seen as wolf whistling, coffee swilling, dusty and foul mouthed cowboys systematically ripping people off and causing chaos. They couldn’t be further from the truth. We need to be better at selling our industry to newcomers old and young and getting this information to secondary schools, colleges and universities so that young people have enough information to consider our industry when deciding on their steps into employment. This will help them into a fulfilling career with real prospects and help us target more of the right individuals to improve our industry.
There are many ways into construction, and many careers available (literally hundreds!) and there is no set path. My advice is for young people to decide what they want from a career then decide on the steps to get there; all routes all have pros and cons. In my experience I cannot fault the day release/ apprenticeship system. I am now, at 25 years old, fully qualified, with 8 years’ high quality experience, well paid, no student debts and in a career that will allow me to progress. It really worked for me!