Mike Baillie Blog

After 14 years of serving in the Royal Engineers I decided it was time to chase my dream and study civil engineering at university. This was a course offered and paid for by the Army. After 18 months of classroom lessons, lab work, endless assignments, exams and a construction project I finally got to go and work with a civilian company for my workplace attachment.

After attending the demolition presentation by John F Hunt at the Royal Engineers museum I was left very impressed and knew instantly that this was the company I wanted to do my attachment with. The next morning, I messaged Davinder and said how impressed I was and that I’d love to do my attachment with them. To say John F Hunt were welcoming and helpful would be a huge understatement. From initially emailing Davinder to starting my attachment was almost a year. In this time, I was continuously getting emails and support from various personnel at John F Hunt. This made what could have been a very nervous experience, very stress free and thoroughly enjoyable.

For a Soldier that was used to early starts and long days, the prospect of starting work at 07:00am and finishing at 06:00pm didn’t really phase me. The combination of a strong coffee and welcoming staff on site meant I could set about the day’s work with enthusiasm.

Once I had received an induction and been given my PPE I was introduced to the team. These were some of the most knowledgeable and helpful people I have ever met. Regardless of the questions I was asking, they would always go above and beyond to not only tell me the answer, but ensure I fully understood it too.

I arrived and the Project Manager, Riaan had broken down all of the things that he thought I should cover that would be of value to myself. No matter how busy he was, he would still find time to keep me under his wing and explain what was happening during the project. During the 6-week attachment I covered the following topics:

  • Health and Safety Audits
  • Quantity Surveying
  • Working alongside the engineers on site and in the office
  • Quality Assurance and Quality Control checks
  • Surveying
  • Monitoring Works
  • Groundworks
  • Groundwork calculations
  • Concrete pours
  • Propping

Reflecting on the attachment as a whole, simply put I have loved the whole experience. I have learnt a number of new skills and developed others. I will be taking a lot of the things I have learnt and trying my best to implement them within the military environment. The knowledge and experience I gained during the attachment was invaluable and the whole experience was an absolute eye opener. I really do hope I can work with John F Hunt again in the future. I learnt an awful lot and I have to say, the constant banter in the office and on site was brilliant and was very similar to the camaraderie that you get within the military. John F Hunt, very much like the Army is more than just a job, it felt more like a family.

From the bottom of my heart, I would like to say a huge thank you to Davinder and all the staff at John F Hunt for their support, advice and above all, being so welcoming. It was greatly appreciated.

A special thank you to:
Davinder Reehal
Riaan Taljaard
Richard Sanders
Paul Wightman
Sam Senthuran
Mark Rowlandson