An Insight from John F Hunt’s Graduate Engineer – Kapil Jeyakumar

6th October 2020

I started with John F Hunt Limited in the summer of 2018 after my 3rd year of University, after meeting Davinder and Paul at a carers fair at Brunel University London. This was my first summer internship and I was placed on the HS2 enabling works project at Euston station; part of the government’s multibillion-pound scheme to connect 8 out of the 10 major cities within the UK.

This project involved the demolition of 26 buildings spread across 2 sites with each building being a different size and having various structural makeups. Although the project was still in the planning stage, I was given key responsibilities and placed in scenarios where I had to push my boundaries in order to get the job done. This helped me gain confidence in myself and an understanding of the demolition and contracting environment. I was in constant contact with the client and principal contractors which allowed me to learn a significant amount.

After finishing my master’s in Civil Engineering in the summer of 2020, I then joined John F Hunt as a graduate site engineer. I continued to work at the HS2 Euston project which was now in full swing and several buildings had been demolished. I was gaining valuable experience from site works and developing skills and knowledge from shadowing the expert engineers I was working with.

I was also involved in constructing a LEGATO retaining wall, backfilling works, preparing design briefs, ITP’S, MAF’s and As-builts as well as setting out temporary works. This allowed me to experience the floor by floor demolition technique used on buildings from start to finish and as result, expanded my knowledge as a site engineer. On this project I learnt a lot about the complex logistics, demolition methodology, relevant paperwork and planning for the demolition phase – all of which I had contributed to.

March 2020 arrived and due to the Coronavirus pandemic, I was placed on furlough due to family circumstances as well ensuring my job was secure. John F Hunt were very understanding of my situation and after 3 months, the lockdown eased and things began to go back to normal.

I then talked to the Managing Director and was delighted that I would be placed on a project working under the Technical Director, Davinder, Charted Project Manager Irfan and Assistant Project Manager Dean. I was placed at Elizabeth House which was to be one of the biggest demolition projects in London. This was the first project where I am the only responsible engineer on site, but with the guidance of Dean, Irfan and Davinder I am gaining valuable experience.

This was a completely different environment to the HS2 job, as John F Hunt were the principal contractors here. I was given key responsibilities such as planning and directing the structural investigations of the building, developing drawings and attending meetings with the principal designer for the planning of future works. I was also involved on the management and commercial side of the project dealing with, daily site briefings, toolbox talks, floor walks with the client, site signage, weekly paperwork, ensuring the project was running smoothly and progressing according to the project programme. Furthermore, I confirmed daywork sheets were signed and floors were handed over in a timely manner. This project gave me a real feel of how it was to work as an Assistant Project Manager on a job and how it was to manage two demolition supervisors.

Due to my previous experience with the company, coupled with the privilege of working with experienced managers who mentored and guided me throughout, I was able to learn and contribute immensely during my time with John F Hunt.

I have been in frequent contact with the Technical Director – Davinder Singh Reehal who has been pushing me towards my goal of achieving chartership status with the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE). Davinder has been very proactive and welcoming in helping me to complete my quarterly reports and in my time with John F Hunt I have now completed two.

As a fellow of the ICE and with his vast experience, Davinder is very knowledgeable in the engineering world of demolition, so he is always a pleasure to talk to. He is encouraging me and all the other interns and graduates to go for opportunities that allow for professional development and career progression.

John F Hunt strive to make their employees feel comfortable in the work they do and push employees to undertake training which allows them to become more competent in what they do. The company is a very gratifying business to work for and they have allowed for me to progress well in my role. I look forward to my future with John F Hunt and being able to work on more complex projects, allowing me to grow further in my role as well as expand my knowledge.