I am a board director at Aukett. I am responsible for the engineering group, new business, IT and management systems.
What’s your typical day?
It’s a mixture. I manage all submissions for new projects and orchestrate all our presentations. I’m also involved in buying computers and software and setting our IT budget. I get involved in current projects, too. There are usually at least three on the go, so I go to project meetings.
What hours do you work?
I usually get to the office at about 8.15am and leave between 7.30pm and 9.30pm, or later when we have a big submission coming up. I sometimes work until late at night and at weekends.
Do you take all your holiday entitlement?
My allocation is six weeks but I usually take only four or five.
Why did you become a teacher at first?
I taught evening classes in my early 20s and got a taste for it. But the real reason was that I was approaching 30 and felt I needed to break the mould. My career was progressing in a fairly pedestrian way and I hoped to change that by setting up my own business. I thought if I went into teaching, I would have more time to work on my own business because, ostensibly, the pressures are not so great. I then found that teaching was terribly demanding.
Is that why you stopped teaching?
I started lecturing in 1972 but from about 1974 I began to do consultancy work as well; a lot of it at Aukett Associates. It was becoming a multidisciplinary practice and I helped integrate engineering expertise into the way it did things.
By 1985, I realised I couldn’t do either job properly. It was driving me insane. The commercial world won me over, partly because of the money, but also because I couldn’t see myself becoming a venerable old lecturer. I also think industry experience is important for lecturers – they need to keep in touch with the industry they are teaching about.
What do you prefer about your job now?
I can stand back and say: “I had a hand in making that. I built that.” As a teacher, there is no tangible result to show for your work, other than former students who are now engineers.
And I like the perks that go with my job – driving a Jaguar, owning a boat and living in a big house, as well as being able to give my kids a good start in life.
What stresses you out at work?
Submissions. They always have immovable deadlines and come in at random.
Do you ever lose your cool?
No. I’m like a swan. Serene on top and paddling away furiously underneath.
How do you relax?
I like a beer in the evening after work. Every other weekend in the summer I go sailing, either off the Isle of Wight or around Yarmouth. It’s a great way to de-stress because when you sail, you have to concentrate. You can’t think of anything else.