BSc (Hons) Civil Engineering, 1976
Commercial Director, Triomf Pty Ltd
Originally from Scarborough, UK and now based in Australia
Triomf is a small railway signalling design house and my main roles in the company are: reviewing and negotiating client contracts; managing risk and change control on contracts; control of the company financial and quality functions; and providing strategic guidance.
What’s the best thing about what you’re doing now?
I am my own boss.
What made you interested in your current role?
It was a combination of gradual evolution and happenchance. I set up the company in 2011 and took on the roles best suited to my experience.
How has your career developed since graduating from the University of Birmingham?
It's been a wonderful ride of seeing the world and adjusting to varied and interesting roles. In the years after I graduated it was relatively easy to work abroad in demanding positions which would have been filled with a more experienced person in the UK. I started with site and resident engineer roles, moving into civil/structural consultancy and then, by pure chance, changed to commercial management in mid-career.
What skills you learned from degree or time at university would you say you use most in your job?
Not being the most diligent academic, problem-solving, building relationships and making decisions were the attributes that I developed most at university. Oh, with a reasonable background in theory.
What motivates you?
I was told in Saudi Arabia in 1984 (as I handed in my notice) that I was daft to leave and as I grew older money would be the main driver. Unfortunately for my pension fund, that has never been the sole motivation. Getting things successfully done on time, to budget and clients, colleagues and anyone else involved or affected being happy has been much more important to me.
Why did you originally apply to Birmingham?
It was a toss-up between Leeds and Birmingham. I thought Leeds was a bit too close to home, so Birmingham had the edge. Added to that was that my father came from Brum and I fancied watching Aston Villa down the Holte End as much as I could.
What are your fondest memories of the University?
The sport. Rugby league for the University in the days when it could affect whether you were allowed on a rugby union field again; the 6-a-side football tournament; swimming at the sports centre. Curries down the Bristol Road in Selly Oak. The wonderful array of beers from the Black Country.
Did you get involved in any extracurricular activities as a student?
I was involved in running the University Rugby League team, and I was treasurer of the CivEng Society for a time.
How did your time at university help you start your career?
I changed quite a lot from the time I entered university to graduation and developed more self-confidence. Mind you, I still remember walking out on the Humber Bridge as a site engineer on my first job, having to tell experienced erectors what to do and thinking how green I was. That I was then confident enough to go abroad was probably down to the educational grounding at university. I don't recall having a ‘biggest’ influence, it was the experiencing of the sum parts which was important.
Is there anything you wish you knew before you started your studies that would have better helped prepare you?
Not really. I was a bit shy of the academic staff at first and only latterly understood that they were all completely committed to helping in each and every way they could. That's important to understand.
What advice would you give to current students?
Do your best while you are there, but don't think the level of degree should be all-important. After a few years nobody will ask for it; they want to know you (mind you, you will need the degree these days to get work visas abroad). Get involved in things and enjoy your time. Birmingham University gives such a good all-round level of education you can afford to broaden your mind in other things (maybe not so many curries and pints of beer as me though!).
“I enjoyed my time at Birmingham and it is well thought of internationally. Get out and see the world!”