Career path – Chris Burton, business development manager, Tony Gee

Get involved with your profession to build the contacts that will help you develop your career, says Chris Burton.

Chris Burton, business development manager, Tony Gee & Partners

Why did you decide to go into civil engineering/infrastructure?

I spent many days as a child playing on a Devon beach which had a stream running across it to the sea. With my brothers (one of them is also a civil engineer) we would build all sorts of pools and structures to play in. The clincher came in 1982 when I watched the Mary Rose being raised from the Solent. I looked at the crane barge and thought “I want to play with toys like that”.

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

It is fair to say that I did not excel at A-levels so I studied initially for a BTEC HND in civil engineering and followed that with a BEng Honours degree in the same subject.

Who was your first employer and why?

I did a sandwich year from polytechnic with contractor Costain and then returned to them on graduation. I thought that construction and the outdoors suited me best and that it would give me that chance to work on complex projects with some impressive kit. And so it proved.

What have been your CV highlights since?

There have been quite a few career highlights for me. Seeing a solution develop from an initial idea and then implemented always gave me huge satisfaction, and still does. I have been lucky enough to have been involved with some really good engineering. I have also always been close to training and development and working with young engineers over the years to help them achieve their ambitions has been another one of the highlights.

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

I never really had a hard and fast plan. I recognized what I enjoyed and was good at and went from there. My involvement with the Institution of Civil Engineers was more evolution as well, going from branch chair to regional chair, then Council. I like to be able to have a voice and I think it’s important to give something back.

What is special about Tony Gee and why did you stay?

I have worked with Tony Gee on quite a few occasions over a period of more than 20 years. They are proper engineering problem solvers and have some world class expertise coupled with a good, strong delivery ethic. They are highly committed to developing young talent and they appreciate the value of good relationships.

Describe your job

My role has two primary requirements. business development and marketing. I identify business opportunity for our delivery groups and support them to secure the work. Alongside other senior staff I also manage and maintain the client relationships that keep Tony Gee’s profile where it needs to be.

What about work gets you interested, keeps you interested?

I enjoy the diversity and challenges of the engineering profession and the people that work in it. Most of them are pretty down to earth, which I like.

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

The opportunity to be able to make a difference and the support to do it.

What advice would you give your younger self?

I would say that I have been lucky in my career so far. My advice though would be to never stop making your own luck.

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

I have maintained an active involvement in the industry beyond the day job for over 20 years which has allowed me to develop a large, wide ranging contact base. This is one of the key elements of my current role at Tony Gee.

What is the best thing so far in your career?

The friends that I have met during it.

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