Get to Know Stephen
Cairn Cross offers graduate and apprenticeship programmes to give you hands on experience and learning. We’ve sat down with some of our team members to learn more about them, the accountabilities in their job, and their thoughts on their careers and learning with Cairn Cross.
Who are you, and what do you do?
I’m Stephen, and I’m the Commercial Manager. You can usually find me in the office overlooking the project commercials with respect to client and sub-contractor management, with occasional site visits supporting the project manager and allowing time to review the project progression along with discussions surrounding forecasting of future works.
What does your job entail?
My day-to-day responsibilities include monitoring and controlling costs and budgetary information across multiple projects that are live. I am also responsible for managing the contracts, ensuring the correct mechanisms are followed and adhered to with respect to each project’s specific requirements and the communications such as Early Warning Notices, Compensation Events/Variations, Applications for Payment, Final Accounts and so on. Further to this,
How long have you been at Cairn Cross?
I’ve been with Cairn Cross for four years, during which time I have completed my university degree in Quantity Surveying, achieving 1st class honours.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
Being a Commercial Manager means I talk to a range of stakeholders and clients across a wide range of disciplines, both internally and externally to the business. The best part of my job is utilising this exposure to multiple projects to further my knowledge of the industry, helping me further build strong relationships with internal team members along with the external supply chain.
How have you found the training/graduate/apprenticeship programme?
When beginning my journey with Cairn Cross they helped me enormously financially by covering the cost of my tuition fees allowing me the peace of mind to complete my studies free from part of the burden left with repaying these fees when becoming fully qualified.
Using this experience, I am also able and responsible for the progress and development of our apprentice quantity surveyor, ensuring that he learns and understands the best industry practices and progresses towards becoming a fully qualified professional.
What is the best career lesson you have learnt so far?
Health and safety awareness and regulations are not to be disregarded, and the consideration of one and others’ well-being is of the utmost importance. It’s always important to raise concerns before accidents occur to avoid injury. I’ve seen first-hand how cutting corners puts others in danger!
What was your favourite project to work on?
In my four years with Cairn Cross I have worked across numerous projects dealing with varying disciplines from ground works and civil packages for private developers, bridge strengthening works for a high street retailer, external work packages for a nationally recognised fast food restaurant to specialist equipment installations and full turn-key packages for new facility constructions.
Although my favourite project to date was the Hayle Bridge re-strengthening project in Cornwall, as this was the first project in which I had full commercial control. The works were for a well-recognised high street retailer and required re-strengthening works to the single car park access bride crossing over a body of water.
As the river level is based on tidal patterns, the steels to the underside of the bridge had caused corrosion to the steels due to frequent submersion which had posed a structural concern of the integrity of the structure. This project was challenging to plan and coordinate due to the location and tidal patterns affecting the operation hour. Along with this, the time of year was of key importance to the retailer as December is one of the busiest spells in the year for all retailers meaning whilst the works were underway the bridge had to remain open to the public for access to the store.
A single lane traffic light operated access was put into place for the duration and bespoke scaffolding install to a specialist design not to create additional loading on the bridge structure, this was from each bank of the river to provide a safe working base and fully enclose to prevent waste from steel blasting depositing the water. Once the steels were prepared and taken back to remove the corrosion, additional steels were introduced providing sufficient strength and applied with a specialist coating to prevent further corrosion and enabling the bridge to return to full working order. Despite this difficult nature of this project we were able to deliver in full ahead of programme and under budget which saw ourselves make donation made to a local charity whom were accommodating with the installation of our scaffolding as well as provided them with some much needed improvements to their external area allowing them to make further uses of their property.
Who inspired you to pursue the career you have today?
Construction has always been with me, my father is a greatly appreciated ground worker and bricklayer, having spent the majority of his working life within the industry. He originally was a steeplejack and took part in the dismantling/demolition of old redundant factory smoke stacks, eventually moving towards bricklaying and groundworks. He spent several years when I was an infant working away in Germany, where he built up a good reputation that led him to becoming a working site manager with a civil engineering outfit close to our hometown working nationally. Having been surround by this for my whole life it was inevitable I would find myself following a similar path.
What’s the best advice for someone who just started their career?
Honestly, work hard and don’t be afraid to challenge the norm. Ask questions, absorb the knowledge of those around you and always strive to better yourself.
In terms of successes, which accomplishments are you most proud of?
The thing I’m most proud of is my progression to achieve an honouree degree. I didn’t leave high school with the best of grades and my route to where I am today is the result of my hunger to succeed. You could say I’ve taken the long way around to get here but I wouldn’t change a thing because I believe it’s given me great experiences and made me the person I am today.
Describe your ideal tea or coffee?
I wouldn’t mix tea and coffee together personally however, I’m partial to a Flat White.
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