Lee Roberts joined the Thakeham family after an extensive career in the Armed Forces. Here, we chat to the Assistant Site Manager about how he’s transferred his skills into the construction Industry and why Thakeham was the right company for him.
How long were you in the military?
What do you think are the most valuable skills the army equipped you with?
“Its core values. Loyalty, integrity, discipline, respect…all values I now continue to live and work by even after leaving. Communication; the ability to speak to and in front of people. Most soldiers are also encouraged to complete at least one course to become an instructor in a military skill, which also harnesses an ability to communicate with people and to have confidence in what you do.
Why did you choose construction? Why Thakeham?
“I joined the Royal Engineers in 1995 and trained to be a Design Draughtsman, with progression through the ranks and trade related courses (HND in Building Studies) I became what was in effect a Construction Manager within the Royal Engineers. Having spent the last 14 years of my Army career in this field, it seemed like a natural step to move into the civilian construction industry. A friend of a friend put me in contact with Randstad, an employment agency, as he was aware of Thakeham looking for people through them and had only heard good things about the company. They managed to get me an interview with John Gaffney, Construction Director at Thakeham.
Have you easily transitioned into your new role at Thakeham?
“I had a bit of time off to wind down and get my head around the career change before starting at Thakeham. I started on site at groundwork stage so I’ll have experienced the process from start to finish. The site manager I work alongside has also been brilliant and supportive – making the transition easier than I was expecting.
Have you found you can apply what you learnt in the army to your new role?
“On a personal level, I try to apply punctuality and discipline in all I do. I heed the importance of working relationships, giving me the confidence to communicate with people regardless of position or management level. Technical knowledge is the area in which I have the most to learn, but all that the Army has taught me will still inform every aspect of my learning with Thakeham.
What advice would you give to a service leaver wanting to start a career in construction?
“If you are already skilled, try and get a work placement with a company. The realities of working on site can be very different to those you have read about or even experienced on a military construction site. Be open and flexible with regards to what you want, being versatile will make you more employable.
Why is Talent for Development so important in the current state of the construction industry?
“Everyone is aware of the shortfall in tradesmen and management within the sector. Directly targeting both college/school leavers and those who are leaving the forces has a few advantages. Thakeham and its sub-contractors can speak to people directly and can ensure the right individual is employed.”
Read more about Talent for Development by Thakeham here.