FaberMaunsell's Graham Howells may have been appointed head of the firm's environment division, but he still believes it's important to have a life outside work
What is your new job?
When Oscar Faber merged with Maunsell Europe and Metcalf & Eddy UK, the new business – FaberMaunsell – was divided into four divisions. Because I had looked after infrastructure at Oscar Faber, I was made head of the new infrastructure and environment division. I now manage about 320 people. The environmental side of my job is fairly new to me so I am finding it quite exciting – I am learning lots of new skills. I also run the company's West Country business, which has offices in Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter.

What is a typical day?
I don't think any two are the same, especially as I spend so much time travelling between the West Country and our other offices. I'm pretty office-based, keeping abreast of projects, resourcing, organising programmes or having meetings.

What hours do you work?
Generally I'm at work just after 8am. When I am working in the West Country, I tend to finish about 5.45pm so that I am either home by 6.30pm or able to socialise with colleagues.

Do you take all your holiday entitlement?
Oh yes. It is crucial to recharge your batteries in order to work effectively. I tend to go skiing once a year and have a long holiday in the summer.

Why did you go from public work to a private company?
I used to work at South West Water, but privatisation has meant far fewer career opportunities for me in the public sector. Working for FaberMaunsell, which has a flexible approach, I have had many more challenges and opportunities to try out innovative techniques.

What gives you a buzz in your job?
I am in charge of the firm's Real Change Leader initiative, which involves taking a group of employees away for the weekend to brainstorm ways to move the company forward. We get people together from all over the country and from all levels within the firm. Seeing employees empowered to contribute surprisingly innovative ideas and take on more responsibility is really rewarding.

What frustrates you in your job?
I don't have any real frustrations, as we tend to tackle everything in a positive light. But if I do have a problem, I will deal with it and try to see it as being fun and not so much of a chore.

How do you switch off?
I coach rugby to 20 13-year-old boys in Exeter every Wednesday evening and referee and organise the Sunday afternoon matches.

I also like sailing with my wife on our dinghy down the Exe estuary, playing a bit of golf and walking.

What's your ideal alternative career?
I would have probably been an art teacher. I was quite good at it at school and I enjoy teaching.

Personal details

Current job
Head of infrastructure and environment and of the West Country business at FaberMaunsell
Previous jobs
1989 senior engineer, Weald council; 1991 project engineer, South West Water; 1993 senior engineer and then director at FaberMaunsell
First-class honours degree and postgraduate diploma in civil engineering
Exmouth, Devon
Audi A6 saloon
Wife Debbie, son of 12 and daughter of 16