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Louise Slimm, Degree Apprentice, Atkins


Degree Apprentice

What is your role at F+G?

I am a degree apprentice cost manager at F+G.
As a cost manager, it is my responsibility to advise a client on how to best manage their budget from the initial feasibility stage of a project, right through to completion. This may include preparing a cost estimate to see whether a project is economically viable, assisting with the preparation of contract documents, working with the project team to manage change and stay within budget, ensuring a contractor is offering the client best value for money, managing risk register budgets and assessing the work done on site so the contractor can get paid.  Because I am an apprentice, I also spend 1 day a week studying towards my degree in quantity surveying with UCEM.

Tell us a little bit about your background?

I was always academic in school and enjoyed working with people but had no idea what I wanted to career-wise. After achieving good grades at A-Level in chemistry, physics and geography, I decided I didn’t want to go to university (much to my teachers’ horror!)- I didn’t want to do a degree for the sake of it and have no plan about what to do after university.
To get a better idea of the world of work, I worked in a hospital for 2 years in the pharmacy department, but quickly decided this wasn’t for me. Around the same time, a few people around me suggested I look at jobs relating to construction, due to the vast amount of opportunities there were. I began looking for degree apprenticeships in various professions of the industry whilst continuing to work in the hospital. The one that appealed to my skillset the most was quantity surveying, so I applied for all of the degree apprenticeships on the market, with F+G being my number 1 company to work for. A few months later, I had got the job, planned to move to Cambridge and the rest is history!

What is the best thing about your job?

The variety! Everyday is different, so there’s very little chance of getting bored and it keeps you on your toes. I can be working in the office, visiting site, attending meetings… the projects I work on range from an ambulance station to a school, so there’s lots of different quirks and considerations for each one. Working as part of a team is also great, both within F+G and wider project teams. Everyone has their individual job role to do in order to make the project happen and it’s nice to work together to face any issues with the project.

What makes a good day at work?

Apart from when someone brings cake into the office (which is great), I really enjoy visiting site and seeing how my projects are progressing. I like feeling that I have been productive, tackled any challenges I may be having at the time and feeling up to date on my to-do list. I’m naturally a real team player, so I also enjoy catching up with other members of the project team and working together to achieve something.

What do you think has had the biggest impact on your career development to date?

Being given my own project to take ownership of from the very beginning to the final stages when the project has completed. I found the responsibility motivated me to ask questions, research more and keep on top of everything, which in turn greatly improved my construction knowledge and experience. It also gave me a huge confidence boost and accelerated my career development. If you show enthusiasm, work hard and ask for opportunities, you will get them.

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