THIS week’s My Kind of Job is Richard Kirk, regional director of the Institution of Civil Engineers
What’s your job?
As the Regional Director of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) I help civil engineers deliver better infrastructure, which makes Northern Ireland a better place to live, work and visit. I oversee ICE’s work promoting civil engineering to schools including the work+ apprenticeship. This year we’re celebrating our 200th anniversary delivering programmes which show the public how civil engineers have transformed their lives. This includes a TV series, partnership with Girlguiding Ulster, building a bridge in Rwanda, exhibitions and public tours.
How did you get there?
I worked as a civil engineer for seven years delivering projects in Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man and then in 2011 I began working with ICE.
Do you have a typical working day?
My days are really varied, which makes my job interesting. Any given day will include working at our office in Belfast with my team and other organisations with the key aim of helping to deliver better infrastructure for the people of Northern Ireland.
I am currently working with my team and partner organisations to deliver the inaugural Infra2018: NI Year of Infrastructure, which has been developed to help tell the story of infrastructure and show the Northern Ireland public how it connects, protects and enables investment and tourism and builds our quality of life. It promises to be a really exciting year and each month in 2018 will have a different theme to tie in with major events throughout the year.
What qualifications do you have?
I completed an MBA in 2013 and a Masters degree in Civil Engineering in 2005. I am a Fellow of ICE and also a Chartered Manager.
What other skills do you need in your role?
As a representative of thousands of civil engineers, it’s important to be able to bring a diverse group of people towards consensus on issues. I also have to distil complex messages to different audiences, ranging from government Ministers to primary school pupils. I also need to think strategically about the issues that affect the industry, lifting my head above the daily industry challenges to make sure we are moving in a better direction.
What’s the best thing about your job?
I get to make a difference in the industry that makes the biggest difference to everyone in Northern Ireland.
And the worst?
The current lack of leadership at Stormont. The longer we have a dissolved government, the more the people living in Northern Ireland will suffer. Projects to help improve the infrastructure here take years of planning, so the longer our politicians are out of office the more delays there will be in terms of helping to improve our infrastructure.
What are the greatest challenges/pressures of the job?
The scale and variety of challenges makes it difficult at times to discern where ICE should focus its efforts. There are lots of good things but we want to do the best thing.
What advice would you give someone considering a career in your profession?
Sign up to Work+ civil engineering apprenticeship. You can start at any age with only GCSEs and go right up to a Masters degree. It the perfect way to get into civil engineering with a salary from the start, no fees and learning along the way.
The civil engineers that I know love their jobs because they get to make a difference to everyday lives, whether its providing clean water, bridges, buildings, wind turbines, tunnelling, helping protect homes from flooding or creating parks and greenways. They get immense satisfaction knowing that they are improving lives.
What’s the most common question people ask when they find out what you do?
What do civil engineers do? I usually reply by saying that they solve the big challenges in society and transform our lives.
How do you like to relax outside of work?
Spending time with my family and playing or watching sport. We’ve been fortunate to get to France and Jersey in recent summers which have been a great way to forget about work for a while.