Ryan's Story - Graduate - Project Planner, Morrison Utility Services

Since beginning his journey in the energy and utilities sector, graduate Ryan feels much more secure in his career. He reveals how much he is enjoying working on different projects, taking on responsibility and continuing to invest in his development.

Ryan Stafford, Graduate, Morrison Utility Service

What do you do and where do you do it?

I’m currently on a Graduate Development Programme with Morrison Utility Services, working on an alliance contract with Anglian Water. I initially worked as a Project Engineer and for the last five months I have worked as a Project Planner in Colchester. I will hopefully soon be moving to a new role as Lead Programme Manager based in Peterborough, which will then become my permanent position.

What does an average day consist of?

As a Project Planner I use a software package called Primavera P6 to plan and monitor every project that comes to our office. This involves a lot of liaising with stakeholders including the Engineers responsible for the project and management at every level of the alliance organisation.

Why is your role important?

My role is important to the company as I give a lot of transparency and control to projects. By working with the engineer to produce a plan at the birth of the project, then having regular updates with management and the engineer to ensure the project is on track and identify obstacles as early as possible. This results in a more efficient project and a stronger relationship with the client.

This is important for the customer as this time and cost saving for projects and in turn for Anglian Water results in better supply for customers, it helps keep customer bills down and reduces the risks to the environment. Also, as part of the Graduate Programme you are seen as a future leader of the company so my personal development is a big investment for them. 

“What I love about working here, which is relevant to all roles I have done and will do in the future; every day is a new challenge.”

Which parts of the job do you enjoy most/find most rewarding?

The Project Planner position is a new role for me and the planning process changed when I came in to this role, I have been responsible for implementing this process change. The biggest and most rewarding challenge has been implementing a change to a department of roughly 30 engineers and the process for how they deliver £20 million worth of projects, collectively, per year. This has been particularly rewarding as I initially came up against a lot of resistance from the team and was told a number of times this process will never work and it is a waste of time. We’re now five months in and already seeing the fruits of the labour and a number of the people that told me this wouldn’t work are now working closely with me to plan their projects. There is still some way to go with the planning process and development of the team but I’m proud of the part I’ve played in getting it this far.

What I love about working here, which is relevant to all roles I have done and will do in the future; every day is a new challenge. No two projects are the same and questions are constantly being asked that make us think in a different way.

What degree did you do? What made you choose it?

I left university with a Masters of Engineering in Aeronautical Engineering (not very relevant to the water industry). For years as a teenager I wanted to join the Army as an Avionics Technician. Both of my parents had been in the Army and I gave very little thought to anything else. When my application was rejected on medical grounds I looked for alternative paths and naturally saw a degree in Aeronautical Engineering as a perfect alternative.

What attracted you to join the energy and utilities sector?

I wish I could tell you I had planned this career and implemented my plan perfectly but that’s definitely not the case. I knew nothing about the water industry while at university and like a lot of final year university students I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do when I graduated. When I graduated I worked in recruitment and this is where I was first introduced to the industry. I tried a few other industries and roles and I think I found the right path by taking the wrong path a number of times. When I applied for this job I was working in a bank with no real career prospects doing a very repetitive role, so when the opportunity came up to join a graduate development programme with a Utilities Services provider that covers a number of industries it was an opportunity too good to turn down. 

“I feel like I have progressed a lot in the 15 months that I have been on the graduate scheme and I’m excited about my future as I am moving in to a more senior role.”

What do you think of the career prospects? Have you had much training and development?

The industry, on average, is aging. This means more people are retiring and less people are looking to change roles. This means that there are a lot of opportunities for young people with enthusiasm and ambition to step up.

The graduate programme here gives the feeling of “sink or swim”, you are given a relatively large amount of responsibility early on which can be quite daunting but the support is always there from your team and managers if you need it. They provide all the necessary training and I know that if I feel like I would benefit from a certain course, as long as I can justify my need, I have a good chance of getting it. I feel like I have progressed a lot in the 15 months that I have been on the graduate scheme and I’m excited about my future as I am moving in to a more senior role. So from personal experience I can say the career prospects are great!

Would you recommend your job to a friend and why?

It depends on the person, really. As I mentioned before there is a real feeling of “sink or swim”, this suits some people and others less so. As a graduate if you want some real responsibility early in your career and you have the confidence to put yourself out there and push yourself beyond your current capabilities then I would definitely recommend it but this graduate scheme isn’t for everyone. 

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