Chris Ruffle, Graduate Project Manager, London
Where did you study and what first attracted you to EC Harris?
I first became aware of EC Harris when I attended a careers fair during my final year at Portsmouth University. I was keen to work with a large International Consultancy where I would have the chance to travel and develop my career. EC Harris fitted the bill perfectly and the fact that they offered one of the best APC Programmes in the industry sealed the deal.
What is your current role and what are its main responsibilities?
My current role is Graduate Project Manager. Being based at EC Harris’ Headquarters in London has enabled me to take advantage of the wealth of knowledge here – there’s always an expert around to offer advice. Right now, I’m working on an international project which has been great for my professional development. My main responsibilities have included agreeing and drafting scopes of work for consultant appointments, managing the performance of the design team and reviewing progress with the client each month in Cairo.
Tell us a bit about a project where you’ve learned a great deal.
Strangely enough, the most interesting project I have worked on was a small refit of a High Street Bank in Reading. Midway through the project, the contractor was forced into administration leaving the build half finished and a very worried client. Contractor insolvency isn’t an issue that you often come across, so it was fascinating to be able to experience it firsthand.
Talk us through what you might do on a typical day.
Every day is different in this line of work but I guess yesterday is as good an example as any. I’m usually in the office by 8.00 and the first task is always to clear my inbox of any urgent queries. Next up is a quick run through of my APC study notes over a strong coffee before settling down at my desk to start work. The client that I am working with at the moment is very keen to start marketing his development as early as possible so, to help him, I issued a Request For Proposal to a number of Computer Generated Image consultants to see what it would cost to generate a 3D flythrough of the scheme and a number of apartment walkthroughs. Once all the proposals have been returned, I grade them using a simple scoring matrix. Before I know it, it’s lunchtime, so I enjoy lunch in the cafe at ECHQ. Back at my desk I draw my conclusions on the most suitable consultant for the job and call my client to discuss my recommendation. I agree to summarise my findings in a formal recommendation report by close of play. Writing the report takes longer than expected but it is issued as promised and I catch the 18.44 train home.
How has EC Harris supported your training and development?
EC Harris has a fantastic APC development programme for graduates. As soon as I joined, I was assigned an APC counsellor and supervisor who were tasked with ensuring that I was being exposed to the right projects in order to develop. I also attend workshop-style training sessions when I feel my knowledge is lacking in a certain area.
What qualities do you need to be successful at EC Harris?
The firm will looks beyond your grades. Behavioural skills and the drive to succeed are treated with equal importance. I believe you need to be confident in your own abilities and be willing to learn.
What’s surprised you most about working at EC Harris?
Meeting the Chairman during my first week was a BIG surprise. All the board members take an active role in graduate development and are always very approachable.
What are the most important/noticeable aspects of its culture?
A work hard/play hard culture. You definitely get out what you put in and hard work is always recognised.
Have you enjoyed any social activities at EC Harris?
I’ve been to an EC Harris Sailing Event in the Isle of Wight. Every year we enter the Surveyors’ Competition and we’ve developed an enviable reputation. New recruits are always encouraged to attend and it’s a great opportunity to get to know your peers and have some fun along the way.
Where do you see yourself in five years time?
I’d like to have completed my APC and be working at an Associate level.