Richard has spent the majority of his career in the international turnkey contracting industry as a Project Manager/Director, managing the design and construction of new facilities in the pharmaceutical, food, process, steel, heavy machinery, railway and manufacturing industries.
Richard studied a combined mechanical engineering and business studies degree at Sheffield University. He then joined GKN on a graduate training scheme, and his first appointment was as a production engineer at GKN Vandervell Products. He rapidly attained his chartered status from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, and moved to GKN Contractors, which had initially been formed to construct new GKN manufacturing plants, but soon moved into general contracting and technology transfer, handling projects such as manufacturing plants, foundries, airports, railway construction, boat building and mining.
How did you gain experience in the sustainability field?
His experience of environmental issues started because many of the construction projects he worked on required remediation. He became an expert in the treatment of carbon disulphide contaminated soils and groundwater, utilising a combination of specially developed soil stabilisation technology and permeable reactive barriers. He has also been involved in site investigations and risk assessments of brown field sites, both as a due diligence study before acquisition of a site and historically after sale and redevelopment of a former manufacturer, to assess the residual risks to human health. He has been involved in cleaning up industrial land for commercial use and housing, and the regeneration of former industrial waste tips into leisure parkland and once into a wetland nature reserve.
“I worked for eight years in the environmental industry managing major site investigation and risk assessment projects, and site remediation projects utilising a wide range of soil remediation technologies. Civil and infrastructure engineering has also been a common factor and significant element of my work in both the construction and environmental industries.”
More recently he has been involved as an environmental consultant in Canada, bidding for work cleaning up sites post mining and chemical processing activities and as project management consultant in China and South Africa managing the construction of a car assembly plant for Volvo and a food manufacturing plant for Tiger Brands.
How has CEnv status helped your career?
Richard was registered as a CEnv in February 2010, when it first became possible to apply through the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. He explains why it has been useful in his career: “Environmental considerations feature in many engineering jobs and the CEnv qualification is becoming more widely recognised. Like all areas, companies are looking for a demonstration of competence and to know that engineers are keeping abreast of developments in the industry and legislation. Increasingly job descriptions will have a requirement for a measure of environmental competence – which the CEnv would meet perfectly”
Mechanical engineers who are working in a process environment are likely to have an environmental responsibility as these industries have the potential to damage the environment – land, water or air – and the risks need to be understood and mitigated. Similarly, design engineers will increasingly need to consider sustainability, recycling, carbon footprint and environmental impact of material selection. Engineers who have, often by accident, found themselves developing an expertise in environmental matters, can have the CEnv approved by the Institution, which makes it a straight forward route for professional recognition.
Richard reflects on the CEnv qualification: “In the future, with the revised and broadened definition of mechanical engineering, I can see more mechanical engineers getting involved and the CEnv being a useful adjunct for chartered engineers. Sustainability is a question that is raised routinely at interviews, and something that all engineers need to understand.”
Find out how to become registered as a Chartered Environmentalist