Running your first project is a momentous occasion for a young engineer. To mark this memorable experience and celebrate the new generation of engineers on National Apprenticeship Week, we’re going through Dylan Lewis’ journey. From first meeting Group Director Panny Hadjioannou to running his first project, this article will take you through getting started as an engineer through both Dylan’s and Panny’s eyes.
Taking it back to where it all started
I still remember my interview with Panny like it was yesterday. This exchange between myself and Panny embedded itself into my brain:
Panny: What do you want to achieve within the company?
Dylan: Well, I want to be sitting in your chair in 10 years.
I think that took him by some surprise.
After leaving school at fifteen, I was privileged to have the opportunity to work for Michael J Lonsdale. I grasped the prospect with both hands, bringing along with me my 4 As and 5 Bs at GCSE level.
Dylan was introduced to me by [Procurement Director] Nigel Swanton. He walked into the room with confidence, and to my surprise, when asked about his knowledge of building Services and us [MJL], he demonstrated a good understanding of both. I liked this, as he took the time to research before the meeting. Even though he had just left school, he was full of confidence.
I was welcomed with open arms by everyone when I first joined, feeling right at home from the get-go. I remember being shown a mechanical CSD drawing at the Cowper Street office thinking: what the hell am I looking at? I had no idea what any of it meant. However, after being shown the services MJL install and how they function within a building, my understanding grew considerably.
After three weeks at the Cowper Street office, I was finally allocated to a project, beginning my engineering journey at ING Bank. Being on-site is a completely different environment from anything I have ever experienced; I loved it. Each day was different, with various activities, issues and tradesmen coming and going. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. Being such a young age  surrounded by people who have been in the industry for over twenty years can be intimidating at times. However, everyone was so welcoming, and with the help of project manager John Gunn and the supervisors, I was given a much-needed confidence boost.
The first experience working on-site leaves an ever-lasting impression on you. Mine wasn’t the best, but that drove me to ensure Dylan was at a place with the right people. I knew exactly who to trust in mentoring Dylan, and I was happily proven right.
A learning engineer
Once ING Bank achieved practical completion and was handed over, Panny decided to let me work on several contracts to further develop my engineering skills. Work focused on building an understanding of the systems and getting my hands dirty, working alongside our sub-contractors. It was an all-encompassing experience as I worked with ductwork, pipework, plumbing, sprinklers and commissioning teams. It was so beneficial to my learning. Seeing the step-by-step process of a fan coil install, for example, gives you a realistic indication of how time-consuming installs are.
Along my journey, I have worked across London for various principal contractors, clients, and site teams in some of the most prestigious buildings in the city. Here are just a few of the many I’ve been involved in:
- Deutsche Bank, Canary Wharf.
- Deloitte, Farringdon.
- Hyperion, Aldgate.
- Google, Kings Cross
- Royal Bank of Canada, Bishopsgate.
- UAL, Stratford (In Progress)
For Dylan’s next stage of development, it was critical to pick someone who had a matching personality and extensive knowledge of managing people and sub-contractors.
Between myself and Mark, we agreed to give Dylan the most important part of the project which had a sectional contractual phased hand-over date with penalties. We had that much faith in him to do the job.
The process wasn’t easy or simple. I had to coordinate closely with multiple trades daily, relying on other contractors to achieve deadlines. From start to finish, it was a huge learning curve. I’ve taken so many lessons from that job into my future work.
With some nudges in the right direction, I successfully handed over all rooms on the deadlines set by the principal contractor. This gave me a huge confidence boost to take on more responsibility for my next project.
Dylan was given the choice to further his education by offering him a degree course but opted not to study any further.
Dylan’s first own job
In September 2021, Panny gave me my own project to lead within the Redworx division. Working at the London Stadium – home of West Ham United – I would lead the team to strip out and replace the existing fire hydrant system. Seven years of progress in the business finally brought me to this stage, achieving what I set out to do in the beginning – have my own project as a project manager.
Dylan is ambitious and hungry to develop. At an early stage he had been chasing me to run his own project. When the London Stadium works came along, this was perfect timing and the right project for the next step of his development.
Currently, I deal with the client, consultant and all sub-contractors daily to ensure the project runs smoothly, efficiently and meets the times set in the project programme. We started installing in November 2021 and am now three months into the project, well on course to meet our final connection and change over dates. By running weekly progress reviews on-site with the trades and communicating well within the meeting we run, I can happily say everyone is pleased so far with my project.
Once the project has successfully finished, I’ll be looking to get my teeth sunk into something more substantial, proving that I can keep progressing in the right direction.
Apprenticeship opportunities at the Michael Lonsdale Group
Would you like to start a prosperous career in engineering?
Do you know someone finishing school/college/university who has their eyes set on an exciting career in construction?
Contact us today using the links below to find out how we can provide an opportunity for the next generation. We have several openings throughout the year to bring on fresh talent to the industry.