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The Next Generation Engineer – National Apprenticeship Week 2022

The Next Generation Engineer header

11/02/22

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

Dylan Lewis, Project Engineer at Michael J Lonsdale

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.

Panny

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 [16] 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.

Panny

A learning engineer

In September 2016 I made my way to City of Westminster college with Panny to enrol on the level 3 Engineering course in building services. I began my 2-year course sharing a classroom with CAD engineers, project managers and quantity surveyors who were probably double my age. One day a week I’d visit the campus, being taught four subjects that required three assignments each. There were many bumps in my first year; the course was very detailed, and I still had limited experience in the job. Luckily the support I had from the project teams on-site was brilliant, taking their time to explain anything and assist with some of my college projects. After two years I qualified with a Merit, covering topics like engineering sciences and construction technology. That didn’t stop there though, as I and Panny agreed that attaining my Level 4 qualification was a natural next step. So in 2018, I enrolled again and began the next two-year journey.

Getting hands-on

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:

Deloitte, Farringdon. One of Dylan’s previous projects.

More responsibility

2019 was when I was given my first role with major responsibility. Contracts manager, Mark McManus, gave me the opportunity whilst working on the RBC [Royal Bank of Canada] project. It was a huge project that contained 24 Floor Control Rooms [FCR], Master Control Rooms [MCR] and Data rooms [UPS]. I was responsible for each room finishing on time and commissioned, snag-free. The comms rooms were without a doubt the most important rooms on the project as security was such a key aspect of a bank. This piled the pressure on me throughout, but I felt I stepped up to the challenge, pushing myself to the limit to meet the expectations everyone had of me.

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.

Panny

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.

UAL Stratford Waterfront, where Dylan is currently working alongside London Stadium

As RBC came to an end, so did my two-year Level 4 Building Services in Engineering course. I achieved Merit in all course topics and topped this up with my SMSTS [Site Management Safety Training Scheme] – something I always wanted to do – passing with flying colours.

Dylan was given the choice to further his education by offering him a degree course but opted not to study any further.

Panny

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.

Panny
London Stadium, where Dylan is running his first project

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.

Panny, Group Director

“Dylan has all the attributes to have a very successful career in construction. Through his personality, confidence and hard work I have no doubt he will make it to the top. He did say he’d be in my seat in 10 years, so only 3 more to go! Well done and keep up the good work.

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.

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