Dec. 12 2019
The lure of working for a global organisation in a dynamic principal fire engineering role was enough for Paul Currie to return to employment after running his own business for several years. This is his career story at Bureau Veritas.
I knew all about the strengths of the business and what I could expect because I was contracting for Bureau Veritas for around six months before I accepted the offer of employment earlier this year.
I felt wanted from day one here. I was initially contacted through LinkedIn and I really enjoyed working with the team as a contractor, so it was a natural progression to join Bureau Veritas as an employee.
Bureau Veritas were very flexible, allowing me to initially join as an employee part-time whilst I finished off teaching commitments at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).
Any expectations I had were shaped by working with the team as a contractor, so I knew exactly what to expect. The biggest change has been taking on more responsibility – particularly as we’ve been able to grow the team beyond what it was when I first started working with Bureau Veritas last summer.
As a contractor, there’s obviously a limited induction but I was fully supported by the recruitment team and introduced to the relevant systems, as well as my new colleagues.
Once I took on a permanent role I was then given a series of inductions so that I could really get under the skin of the business. I think that’s important, especially in a company of this size.
My colleagues have all been brilliant, from recruitment through to my fire engineering colleagues, even in other offices across the UK. Everybody takes the time to support one another and it’s certainly a rewarding place to work.
As a fire engineer, I work on fire strategies and fire engineered solutions for a wide variety of buildings, the aim basically being to ensure that a building is safe and compliant with Building Regulations. We work on a massive range of projects, from the defense sector to residential and schools, which is definitely one of the things that attracted me to Bureau Veritas.
My role is a principal fire engineer, which also gives me additional responsibility on projects and also in guiding graduate engineers and engineers. I act as the office lead for fire engineering in Manchester, which is one of three sites across the UK with a fire engineering team.
The most interesting aspect is the sheer variety of projects I get to work on. We’re working on a scale – both in terms of breadth and size of the project - that you simply don’t get when working for your own company. We have a huge pipeline of projects and there is always an opportunity to work on something different or tackle something new.
And this, in turn, is the biggest challenge too. We work at a significant pace to move from one project to another, meeting tight deadlines whilst exceeding client expectations. I thrive on it, but it can be a challenge at times.
I would have to say the team we’ve built here in Manchester. When I was contracting back in August last year, we had myself and another contactor. Now we have a team of five working in fire engineering from the Manchester office, including two graduates, which is particularly pleasing for me given my university lecturing background.
Of course, this helps us to service our clients more effectively and - by working alongside fire engineering colleagues in our London and Bristol offices - we are constantly expanding the scope of our work.
Fire engineering traditionally gives you a chance to get more involved in projects earlier in your career than other engineering disciplines might do, like civil or structural engineering, so it can be very rewarding even at an early stage.
Despite this, you rarely see people go straight into fire engineering courses from A-Levels because many people simply don’t know what it is at that stage. A large proportion of people on courses, for example, were part-time students from fire and rescue services or working in a consultancy role. Often a company will recruit a graduate with a related engineering degree (like structural, civil, electrical or mechanical engineering) and then train them up in fire engineering.
But however you get into the role, I can’t recommend it enough – particularly here at Bureau Veritas. If you’d have said to me 12 months ago I’d be back working full-time in industry I wouldn’t have believed you. Now I’m here, thoroughly enjoying it, in a flexible role with the full support of my employer - and I haven’t regretted it one bit.