We recently spoke with Jack Britten, Senior Project Manager about his big move from South Africa to England.
Moving from South Africa and relocating in England, leaving family and friends behind is a big move. What led to your decision to relocate from South Africa and how are you settling in? It certainly was a big move, and we eventually built up the courage to make it happen! We’re very happily settled now, taking the opportunity to afford ourselves better job security, easier opportunities for travel and overall happier improved quality of life always seemed like an attractive prospective. These advantages of living here are noticeable in our daily lives which is rewarding of course, especially as a young family.
How long have you worked in the construction industry and why did you choose this industry as a career? How did you get into the industry?I completed my Bachelor of Science (Honours) degree in 2010, taking advantage of an academic scholarship I was offered (by one of the larger construction companies in South Africa at the time) for my last 2 years of studies. I started working for them 12 years ago in 2011. I was always interested in something to do with ‘building’ because every day poses new challenges & its motivating being part of a team where I can see the results (visible completed construction project works) of hard work and efforts put in over months/years.
How does your job as a Project Manager in the UK differ from your previous role in South Africa? Are the types of projects much different? I worked for contractors in South Africa rather than the consultancy side of the industry, however, this has helped me to have a better perspective for discussions I have with contractors now taking a view from a consultant’s perspective. Close similarities are client liaison and stakeholder management. Communication is key and I’ve personally experienced that it doesn’t matter where a project is based especially because the projects aren’t really different.
What are the biggest differences you are finding in your day to day work between the construction industry in England and in South Africa? Do you see any big differences in the material/ technical specifications on projects in the UK? The principles and skills of manging projects here in the UK are much the same and have fortunately enabled me to transfer my skills to projects in the UK. Being critical though, I would say the application of building contracts in terms of contractual mechanisms for holding contractors & sub-contractors to account for poor performance is more rigidly upheld in the UK by comparison. Although consistently required in the UK and SA, specifications and regulations do appear to be a bit more strictly observed in the UK. Material specifications would differ somewhat by pure virtue of that fact that buildings in the UK are designed & built to retain heat whilst the opposite would be desired for the same buildings in South Africa. Similarly, products specified in South Africa would generally be required to have much higher UV resistance by direct comparison to those specifications for products on similar projects in the UK where the risk of UV damage is naturally much lower.
Apart from the weather, what do you enjoy most & least about life in Manchester? What do you miss most about life in South Africa? We live in Holmes Chapel. We enjoy getting some fresh air out on the quiet country walks near home. Easy commuting to Manchester & elsewhere for work by train or driving when we need to is convenient. It really suits our lifestyle. Honestly speaking, I suppose what I miss most about South Africa is December festive season braai’s (barbeques) but we make sure we get enough of that fun outdoors in Spring and Summer here.
When not hard at work, how do you like to unwind outside the office? Outside of work, I’m mostly soaking up all the special family moments with our little 2-year-old daughter.
And finally, what attracted you to working at Appleyard & Trew? What appealed to me was the longstanding established reputation of Appleyard & Trew in the industry where I could further develop my career within my consultancy role. Since joining, the flexibility offered and appreciation for work life balance is also positive reassurance of a positive company culture at the heart of the business.
Jack Britten, Senior Project Manager | 0782 4143254 | firstname.lastname@example.org
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