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Jonathan Cooper, Construction Manager at J Murphy and Son

Jonathan Cooper is a Construction Manager at J Murphy and Son, and spends his days focussing on major rail projects. He talks us through the excitement of working against the clock and how books help him switch off after a day on site.

How did you end up sitting where you are today?

I've taken a long, varied road through a multitude of positions in the rail industry. Beginning as a Trackman through to Construction Manager and finally onto a secondment within an Alliance delivering a £1bn programme of Rail enhancement projects.

I've done it by taking career risks at every level and pushing myself beyond my limits to improve every day.

What gets you excited about your industry?

The Rail industry interfaces with every function of the economy and plays a part in many different industries and government functions, from quarries to the Department for Transport. This variation allows interaction with people from all walks of life which is fantastic. But the real kicker that excites is the pressure to deliver a project or element of a project in hours, from start to entry into service.

What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?

Never be afraid to fail.

Failure is all part of learning and, if you haven't failed, you haven't even tried yet. To achieve something you've never had, you must do something you've never done.

What, or who inspires you?

My Wife firstly, and then my three children are my inspiration. They collectively inspire me to be the best version of myself that I can be every day.

How do you keep up to speed with what's happening in the industry?

Being a part of industry working groups and Webinars helps me keep up to speed with what's going on in the industry.

What was the most challenging project or assignment you've worked on?

My current programme is easily the most complex due to the number of stakeholders involved, and the high volume of businesses that have a vested interest in its success. It's very challenging, but it's also the reason I love it too.

If you could start your life again, what would you do differently?

Nothing, all the mistakes I have made and experienced along my journey have helped shape me into the person I am today. It may seem arrogant of me, but I believe that failing helps us all learn.

You finish work today and step outside the office to find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?

Set up a charity aimed at giving young people opportunities to reach their dream.

How do you switch off after a day at work?

By reading books; I'm currently reading Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People. Not only does this help me switch off, but I use this to strengthen areas of myself which I see as a weakness.

If you had one wish for the future of your industry, what would it be?

Achieve carbon zero.

We only have one planet.

How should people connect with you?

You can connect with me via LinkedIn, at


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