Career path: Scot Parkhurst, Tyrens MD

Scot Parkhurst is thriving as MD of Swedish firm Tyrens in the UK but he wishes his younger self hadn't turned down that job in California.

Scot Parkhurst

What are you working on at the moment?

The biggest project we have been working on has been the Royal Albert Dock Development in London.  Our best project for providing community benefit has been the regeneration of Rectory Park Estate for Network Housing.  We have been working on the sustainable urban realm design for 450 homes with architects bptw partnership.

 Why did you decide to go into engineering/infrastructure?

I liked the thought of designing and building things and I targeted product design and civil engineering degree courses when I started applying to university. I had been working for a builder in the summer holidays for a couple of summers and a Civil Engineering degree seemed like a good idea at the time.

What did you study? How did that lead to this career?

My first degree was Civil Engineering at University of Wales Cardiff (formally UWIST).  The course was a sandwich course and I had two six month industry placements. The first with Taylor Woodrow, on the Piccadilly Tube Line extension at Heathrow, and the second with the international team at Transport Research Laboratory. Both placements were fantastic and provided a real insight into the civil engineering industry. For me this work experience crystallised my path into design and consultancy. I would recommend a degree course with industry placements to any student.  I really enjoyed the geotechnical aspects of my degree course and the engineering aspects of my industry placements.  So, I decided to do a masters in Foundation Engineering at Birmingham University.  This course really set me up for the early part of my career.

Who was your first employer and why?

My first employer was Arup.  Without a doubt the best consultancy to start your career with. 

CV highlights since

My CV highlights were working with Arup in Hong Kong before the handover and working in Washington DC for a US design consultancy.

Did you have a career plan? How has reality panned out against that plan?

My early career plan was to work for a good consultancy, get chartered and work internationally. That was the easy bit.  Later, my career my plan was focused on getting more management experience.  I am a civil engineer but not a specialist; I can put my hand to most sectors, deliver projects and solve problems.  When I joined WSP in 2000 I changed direction from being a geotechnical engineer to project manager.  WSP had 2,000 staff when I joined and 15,000 when I left last year.  This level of growth created a lot of opportunity and I had a variety of roles during my 15 years with WSP involving business development, design, contract and project management across the telecoms, water, nuclear, renewables and rail sectors.  As you get older, wiser and greyer, it becomes harder to find the right senior management roles and experience.

To bolster my management experience, I joined a not for profit leisure company as an unsalaried trustee board director. Fusion Leisure has grown from a £3m to a £50m turnover business over the last 10 years.  I cannot take credit for this growth but my involvement in the company has been invaluable in understanding the strategic issues faced by a growing business.

What is special about Tyréns and why did you move here?

Tyréns is a Swedish based integrated design consultancy employing 1,600 staff. Tyréns is a trust and its business drivers are not the same as the mainstream plc consultancies.  The business works hard to provide it staff with opportunity as well as a good working environment.  As you would expect from a Scandinavian business;  good design, sustainable lifestyles and environmental excellence are important.  Being a trust the business is also able to investment in research & development for the benefit of our clients and the communities we work for. 

I joined because Tyréns because it wanted to grow its UK business and as a group it wanted to become more international.

Describe your job

As the managing director of Tyréns in the UK my role is to deliver the strategy for the business. Our strategy is focused on providing a wider consultancy and design capability in sustainable urban development, transport, environment and infrastructure. In reality my role is a bit of everything. It includes business planning, meeting clients, bidding work, recruiting staff, delivering projects and working with the teams in UK, Sweden and partner organisations.

I am involved in a new initiative with my colleagues in Sweden, which is focused on developing our international business. I am looking forward to this.

What about work gets you interested, keeps you interested?

I like to do different things. My career has involved change and variety.  That is one of the great things about being a civil engineer.  What do we do as professionals? We solve problems for clients and communities and we deliver their projects. That is such a great job.

What do you see as the opportunities ahead?

London has seen strong growth off the back of major infrastructure and property investment. This will continue even though affordability is becoming an issue. However, we are now seeing growth pick up in the regions as the ripple of investment moves beyond the South East.

What can employers offer to make you most happy in your career?

Most people look for a nice working environment, interesting projects, recognition for a job well done and the right level of financial reward.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Don’t turn down that job in California.

What is the one thing you have done that has been fundamental to your career?

Accept any project opportunities offered irrespective of how hard they appear to be.

What is the best thing so far in your career?

Work internationally.

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