As part of our industry-leading and multi-disciplined teams, RSE’s Operations and Maintenance (O&M) team is responsible for delivering projects and supporting the management of projects end-to-end. To give insight into the role of RSE’s O&M department, team members Graham Gilchrist and Bronwyn Spence have shared their experiences of working in their roles.

What does your typical day working for RSE look like?

I have recently been promoted to run O&M 1, which is a role that now makes me profit and loss responsible for a large number of projects delivered over various frameworks for Scottish Water. My day-to-day sees me engaging with several members of the team to review current projects at the Estimate & Delivery stage, as well as keeping track of key project milestones and financials. Furthermore, I also attend regular update meetings with senior staff and clients.

What aspects of your job do you particularly enjoy?

Probably the part of the job that I enjoy the most is being able to work alongside so many talented and skilled people from whom I have learned a great deal. I also take great satisfaction in watching some of the graduate engineers that I have worked alongside and mentored begin their career progression through RSE.

I was also happy to be heavily involved in the design, delivery and installation of two Archimedes screws that had to be installed in three sections in an underground Wastewater Pumping Station. This is a world first and it was a very exciting project to be involved in from front end design through to onsite delivery, which showcases RSE’s ability for full turnkey engineering.

How do you continue to develop within your role?

Within my new role I hope that I can continually develop and aim to do this by working on some of my less competent skills. I also hope to continue building a successful and efficient team as well as fostering key relationships within the industry.

What do you find are the challenges facing the water industry?

I think the challenges facing the water industry at the moment are that there is a lack of experienced employees both on the ground and at middle management level. I think that this is why it is important that RSE continues to take on and develop apprentices and graduate engineers.

How would you best describe your career journey over the last 5 years?

I would say the biggest factor in my career over the last 5 years was taking the opportunity to move from a site-based role and moving into an office-based role. I spent the majority of my career before this either working onsite or managing teams onsite. I then took a chance to move into a hybrid role where I was in the office, organising my own jobs and then going to site and delivering them. This worked for a while, but as the workload grew I knew this wasn’t going to be feasible. I therefore had to make the decision to either go back to the tools or move into the office full-time. Thankfully, I was persuaded to the latter and I am now running a very successful and hopefully ever-expanding team of engineers and field-based trades.

Graham Gilchrist Cp
Graham Gilchrist Career Pathway

What have been your standout moments working for RSE?

Some stand out moments of my career to date include;

  • Travelling to Holland to carry out a Factory Acceptance Test on the worlds first ever three part screw pump which I was heavily involved in designing.
  • Being able to watch junior members of the team grow in confidence and begin passing on their skills & knowledge to new graduates.
  • Being asked to attend Business Essentials training, of which I am just about to complete the fourth and final section.
  • Sitting down at my own desk for the first time after coming into the office from working onsite all my life and wondering how the hell everyone had their laptops spread across three screens.
  • The main standout moment has to be the day I was given the opportunity to run my own small part of O&M.

What do you enjoy about working in the water industry?

Most of my career has been spent in a more reactive side of the industry. It’s a side that I have enjoyed working in over the years as it has allowed me to learn a lot about the different processes involved in water treatment. The faults and issues we find as engineers require a great deal of quick-thinking problem solving and reacting. This fast-paced environment is where I think I am at my best, and I really enjoy the fact that two days are rarely the same.

What does your typical day working for RSE look like?

I assist in the delivery of projects and support the management of projects from end-to-end. Day-to-day tasks include ensuring the correct scope is obtained from the get-go, working with the wider team to come up with a solution to the defined scope and agreeing on it with stakeholders. I also work on site-surveys, the preparation of estimates and quotations, the completion of contract documents, the production of risk assessments and method statements, forecasting, and planning and programming resources for project workloads.

What have you been working on recently?

An example of a project that I have worked on recently was the Carron Valley Water Treatment Works Pilot Plant alongside Scottish Water and Nanostone. The overall aim of this project was to determine the suitability of the Nanostone Water CM-151 Ceramic Ultrafiltration Membrane suitability to meet Scottish Water’s water quality target and operational needs. It was like operating my own water works plant combined with a series of trials, ultimately to see how far we could ‘push’ the membrane.

How do you continue to develop within your role?

I develop within my role by continuing to gain exposure across a breadth of projects. This allows me to further expand my technical knowledge and understanding of the water industry. Regarding my role as a leader, I continue to develop my team by delegating tasks and training team members to create a winning group of staff.

What do you find are the challenges facing the water industry?

Finding people with the relevant experience and skills in the water industry, yet alone in the engineering industry is a big challenge I think we face. There is a knowledge gap between junior and senior staff and the promotion of junior members to mid-level roles will address this and allow the knowledge transfer to be accelerated.

How did you decide on what career path to take?

Since I was young, I have always been interested in how things worked. My favourite subjects in school were Maths and Science, they were also my strongest. A career in Engineering just felt natural for me as a result of my interests and academic performance. Working at RSE, I have realised my strong desire to create efficiencies and my ability to lead and drive success, which has resulted in me going down the Project Management route.

Bronwyn Spence Career Pathway

What do you enjoy about working in the water industry?

I thrive whilst working under pressure and enjoy the reactive side that the Water Industry offers. Every day is different and there is a sense of fulfilment from knowing that you are helping deliver safe and reliable water services.

Find Out More

Interested in a role at RSE?

Owing to continued sustainable growth, our O&M team has multiple exciting opportunities to join our teams across the UK. Find out more about the prospect of joining the team as an Assistant Project Manager based in our Muir of Ord office

Olivia Kerr - Marketing Co-ordinator

Olivia Kerr

Marketing Co-ordinator

First Published

27th July 2023

Estimated Reading Time

7 minutes

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