Balfour construction manager on returning to the army

11 June 2018

Paul Gardener, a construction manager with Balfour Beatty on Crossrail, was seconded by the Army to support the regular units preparing and deploying to South Sudan. 

How did the attachment come about? 

I am a former regular soldier and now serve in the reserves and I received a voluntary call-up – when a reservist is asked if they would like to be officially called up for mobilisation. I was allowed to take a year’s special leave by my employer Balfour Beatty. I have since returned to Balfour Beatty Major Projects in the nuclear sector.

What skills were asked for? How equipped were you for the role?

I am fortunate that I am multi skilled within the military. I am a qualified driver, airborne combat engineer and class one military surveyor. These “trades” have been obtained through years of regular and reserve training. I felt very equipped for the role. 

Tell us about the training you had to undergo

I basically rejoined the army for one full year, spending six months in the UK training and six months on an operational tour in South Sudan. The time in the UK was spent practising using our respective trades to carry out likely construction tasks that may arise out in theatre.

This was an opportunity to get hands-on with the setting out and surveying equipment and to also work alongside the regular soldiers.

We also had the opportunity to talk with some South Sudan nationals and discuss the cultural aspect of the UN mission. 

Were there any crossovers with the role of military surveyor and your position in “civvy land”?

It was good for me to get back on the tools – and refresh my setting out and surveying skills, but on this project I was not in my usual civilian position of construction manager. That is not to say that my civilian skills were not utilised.

I assisted in any aspect of the civil engineering and construction side of the mission that was asked of me. I was also heavily involved in the site safety side, working alongside the Specialist Team Royal Engineers clerk of works.

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