This much I know: ‘You are never too important to learn’

Richard Bark, project manager at Winvic Construction, would like to spread the word that construction careers are varied and challenging – and all experience is valuable.

What made you go into construction?

When I was 16, I had to find somewhere to do two weeks of work experience. Via an uncle who was a civil engineer I did a placement at Caterpillar’s assembly facility in Leicestershire. I really enjoyed working within a tight team, helping to solve problems and getting my best trousers dirty!

This experience guided me into A-levels and then a degree in civil engineering, which included a year out on site. That year out was my first real taste of construction, and I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to work on highways, a water treatment works and a city-centre redevelopment.

Which project you worked on are you most proud of?

There have been many projects that I’ve been proud to work on, however the current scheme at SEGRO Logistics Park Northampton (SLPN) is at the top. It’s a nationally significant infrastructure project (NSIP) approved by the secretary of state through a development consent order (DCO).

“Roles within construction are varied but related, so progression sideways into another area is almost as common as going up the ladder.”

Richard Bark, Winvic Construction

The project involves the creation of a strategic rail freight interchange (SRFI), infrastructure for 5m sq ft of logistics space and construction on the surrounding National Highways and local road networks. The scheme is like several projects rolled into one.

What advice would you give to someone starting in construction today?

Ask questions, listen and have a really inquisitive attitude. Ask “Why does this happen?”, “Why is it done this way?” and take valuable experience from people at all levels. You are never too old or important to learn. Also, I think it’s important to understand that the roles within construction are varied but related, so progression sideways into another area is almost as common as going up the ladder. All experience is valuable as you grow and understand your skills. 

What one thing would you change to make careers in construction more appealing?

Construction careers are varied and challenging. It’s perhaps more about getting the word out – to young people and their parents – about what different roles really entail. Contractors have a responsibility with this and Winvic does many things, from getting staff to write blogs about their roles and projects to opening a Sustainability and Innovation Hub, as well as the Future of Construction training centre with client IM Properties at Mercia Park. Both facilities are being used to inspire the next generation.

What has changed the most about construction since you’ve been working in it?

The change that really stands out to me is the diversity of the people who work within it. It’s great to see people from every background coming together and bringing new ideas into the construction industry.

Also, a lot of new technology has been implemented during my time, with digital modelling, monitoring and machine control now commonplace. This is now helping with the immediate, urgent need to drive sustainability and ensure design and construction methods are considered first. 

Do you have a motto that applies to your work and if so what is it?

“Is there a better way?” If you don’t concentrate on challenging, questioning and learning, you’ll never improve yourself or the outcomes of a project.

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