Day in the Life of: Alan Woolley: Technical Consultant
As part of our series showcasing some of the varied careers at Bureau Veritas, we chat to Alan Woolley, who works as part of the Engineering Technical Services (ETS) team:
Job Title:Technical Consultant – Crane & Lifting
What are the key responsibilities of a Technical Consultant?
I work within the Engineering Technical Services (ETS) team. For each discipline, i.e. crane & lifting, there is a dedicated Principal Consultant and a Technical Consultant. As a Technical Consultant my role is very wide and varied but essentially I cover almost anything to do with crane and lifting, outside of the normal Engineering Surveyor duties. If a client or organisation has any questions on the legislation around lifting equipment and accessories then myself and the team I work with will be the technical experts within the business to advise on this.
The type of things I cover can be anything from a Technical Construction File (TCF) review and witness load testing as a third party, to assisting in the route to achieve CE Marking. I also do work in the nuclear sector, where you often find a lot of bespoke lifting platforms which require certification, examination and Written Schemes of Examination (WSE).
ETS will deal with the ad-hoc requests, Notified Body work and legislation queries. We also work on longer-term projects which tends to involve a lot of consultancy work right the way through a project. For example I am working on a project at the moment which involves a Building Maintenance Unit (BMU) to be placed on the roof of a building in London. For a project like this we will usually look at the initial designs to see whether they fulfil the design criteria set out, and as the third party engineers we would also be involved when the structural engineers come on site to verify whether certain equipment can be used or not.
Whilst I do like I like the reactive nature of my job and working on new challenges and fresh projects, it’s nice to have that stable relationship with some of our other clients that you go back to on a fairly regular basis.
Talk me through a typical week.
Due to the high demanding and busy environment I work in, I usually have my week planned out in the diary. My tasks vary considerably depending on which clients I meet and what they require.Some days involve visiting sites and assessing the capability of lifting equipment. This can require involvement from the design team, project management team and the structural engineer – turning the site visit into a much more detailed process.
Alternatively, my time is often spent liaising with a client for number of different reasons, including booking in physical examinations, following up with or raising quotes, or responding on the training needs.If I’m not doing this, I can be found observing examinations, working on projects or focusing on business and professional development. As part of my job, I regularly undertake training from the Principal Consultant on CE Marking, and third party verification work, in line with the Machinery Directive.
No one week is the same.
How did you get your start in the industry?
Prior to Bureau Veritas, I spent almost 24 years in the military as a Mechanical Engineer, Leader and Manager. During my time in the military I was involved in helping serving and ex-serving soldier migrate over into their second career, which is where I came across Bureau Veritas and their approach to military recruitment.
Whilst I had involvement with Bureau Veritas and its military recruitment programme, when it came to me looking for work I wanted to be considered from a completely impartial point of view and so I applied through the usual online portal.
Fortunately, because of my skillset and the opportunity within ETS, I was lucky enough to come straight into a Technical Consultants role. This is rare for the industry as roles are often filled from within. I don’t think I would have gained an interview for this role, without Bureau Veritas having a thorough understanding of military CVs and an appreciation of the background, mind-set, skills and experience military service leavers possess.
In the military we don’t realise (and it’s not always obvious to see) that we are customer focused. As an engineer we’ve always got a customer and there is always a defined end goal; if you don’t meet that or fulfil the set target (whatever the case may be), then those implications have an impact on both the engineer and the client.
During my role with the military I had experience of being able to deal with influential engineering companies; this enabled me to appreciate how to talk to and engage with clients – most importantly the art of expectation management and not to just offer the answer a clients want to hear. It’s not always about winning the work, it’s about being able to follow through and deliver the client their required end state. I think it was these attributes and the need to be client/customer-centric which was the main crossover from my role in the military to Bureau Veritas.
What do you enjoy about working at Bureau Veritas?
It’s a new challenge every day and no one day is the same. Although there are similarities throughout the day, its often the case that some of the requests that we have coming in send us straight back into the books; so I often have to refer to the various Directives, Standards and Legislations.
I like the diversity that Bureau Veritas offers and the fact that we are a large organisation with scope for continuous improvement and personal and professional development. It’s up to you if you want to develop and move up through BV; however, the pathway is there.
I’m lucky to have a very good mentor within ETS; Nick Green is also ex-military and understands the challenges I face. Since joining the company, I have been able to enrol on a work-based Masters Degree in Engineering and Management, for which Bureau Veritas is partly sponsoring.
I definitely see ETS as a growth area for the business and this should afford me the opportunity to develop and progress to the Principal Consultant or Business Unit Manager roles in the future. Having only been here a year, I need to consolidate my understanding and learning of the industry and company first; continue to develop in my current role, before I start ascending the corporate ladder.
I have volunteered as a mentor for the military recruitment scheme and have attended military recruitment events on behalf of Bureau Veritas; these types of events are something that are very important to me. I think it’s critical that ex-military personnel, who have been through the transition process in to civilian industry are available to assist and offer military service leavers realistic advice when it comes to considering a second career,; this gives me a great deal of fulfilment and the opportunity to give a little support and assistance where possible.