Three young and thrusting managers at Bovis Lend Lease chat to Victoria Madine over coffee

Russell Stewart, Linsey Stansfield, Rick Gray
Russell Stewart, Linsey Stansfield, Rick Gray

Why construction?

Rick Gray I’ve never wanted to sit behind a desk all day and this industry allows me to avoid being office bound. And you get to see a result – the building you’ve been working on.

Linsey Stansfield My dad ran a haulage firm when I was little so I grew up seeing lorries and heavy equipment. I realised that you can make good money in construction and, if you are keen, you can rise through the ranks quickly.

Russell Stewart Life as an electrician got very dull. I needed a change.

What is a typical day for you?

LS There’s no typical day. I race from one client meeting to the next – I might need to travel to London for an appointment or go to a lunch to make a presentation to the Association of Project Management. Generally though, I’m developing our relationship with clients and making sure that they are well served by the company.

RG I have to co-ordinate 43 contractors on the project I’m working on. I spend a lot of time sorting out problems and getting people to do things they don’t want to – for example, redoing a job. Persuasion is a useful skill in this industry.

Do you think the construction industry has improved its image?

LS I think the industry has progressed a great deal in the past few years. Health and safety has become of paramount importance, and companies such as Bovis take the need to employ a properly trained workforce very seriously. Clients recognise that the industry is becoming more considerate.

RS Health and safety definitely informs every move we make on site. Sometimes it means that things take longer but there’s a real understanding on site that you can’t cut corners when it comes to safety. I reckon people are slowly getting the message that construction isn’t a dangerous and dirty business. But we need to keep on raising our standards.

How important is the issue of work–life balance to you?

RG The company is running a pilot scheme on some projects to measure whether if people stick to their official hours, the project can still be completed on time and hit all its quality targets. I work 8am to 4pm. I’m sure I feel better for it.

LS Bovis takes the matter very seriously and I’m optimistic that it’ll become more and more of a consideration in the management of projects.

RS Hmm … I’m not so sure. I work very long hours and the only way they could be reduced would be if there were two of me. I reckon the only way you could truly ensure that you don’t work more than a standard 37-hour week would be for the company to take on more staff. When senior managers ask you to do something they don’t always realise how much time it will take to do.

  • Russell Stewart is a 34-year-old project manager with Bovis. He worked as an electrician until his early 20s and then studied building services at Northumbria Polytechnic.

  • Linsey Stansfield is a 25-year-old project manager with Bovis. She has worked for the firm since she graduated from University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology.

  • Rick Gray is a 23-year-old construction manager. Bovis sponsored Gray through his four-year sandwich course in construction management at Salford University.