Lee Lindsay is a Freelance Surveyor in the UK's rail industry. A veteran of over 50 projects, he talks about the importance of sport when he's not in the office and why his industry feels like one big family.
How did you end up sitting where you are today?
After graduating with a Business and Quality Management Degree from the Nottingham Business School (NTU) in 2003, I was approached by Balfour Beatty Rail to work as a Graduate Quantity Surveyor. It appeared there was a national shortage of "QS's" so they identified those with good analytical and business skills. I took a role working in Rugby on the West Coast Mainline (OLE Alliance).
Balfour's paid for a conversion course and put a handful of graduates who had the transferable skill sets through an MSc at the University of Manchester. The MSc was in Management of Projects and involved working three days per week and studying at university for two. Through this, I obtained a blend of live project experience whilst also learning the broader importance of Commercial Management through the MSc.
I've stayed within the rail industry ever since but have also dipped my toes into construction. I spent five years with Turner & Townsend, in their Birmingham office, where I had some great experiences in various sectors such as healthcare, retail and education.
What gets you excited about your industry?
The rail sector is one of the largest employers in the UK, as it's important to keep the country moving safely.
What I like most about the rail industry is the people - there's a great attitude to 'deliver'. This attitude is embedded in our processes, and everyone to adopt it for us to succeed.
It's also great to see an end product. I get excited about completing projects which have taken years in development. To reach that final account sign off and hand back to the maintainer is a great feeling of achievement and collaboration between the many stakeholders that help deliver a project from start to finish.
What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?
Someone once told me that the rail industry is one big family, and it's so true. I know people that work for every single top 20 UK rail business.
Therefore, it's important to maintain relationships and act professionally at all times. There's a fantastic amount of diversity within the industry which promotes equal opportunities throughout the sector. Good impressions are everything as are maintaining relationships.
What, or who inspires you?
My father. He worked his socks off running his own business to provide and put three of his children through university and give us a great opportunity to be successful.
I really look up to my Dad and, at 73, he still hasn't hung up his boots working. He's still going strong - it's what keeps him going!
How do you keep up to speed with what's happening in the industry?
Communication is everything within a business the size of Network Rail. The Comms team are regularly updating us on vital safety issues, standard changes, lessons learned, project successes and opportunities. I also subscribe to RailStaff and RailEngineer Magazines.
What was the most challenging project or assignment you've worked on?
I have worked on over 50 different projects during my time in the industry, so it's not easy to pinpoint a single project as the most challenging. Each project has its own unique risks, challenges, and financial constraints.
It's how the project team and stakeholders manage and overcome these challenges, which proves your strength and experience. Getting results is important to me and what strives me to work hard and keep focus.
If you could start your life again, what would you do differently?
I kind of regret not going to work in the UAE or Australia during the boom period of the first decade of this century. Now I have a child I doubt I will get this opportunity until he's much older. But if I had my time again, to have worked overseas on infrastructure projects is something I would most definitely do.
You finish work today and step outside the office to find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?
I'd more than likely move to the States and own a small yacht. I do prefer a warmer climate.
I don't believe I could ever give up work, though. I'd also look to invest in businesses and want to be part of influencing their success and growth. Plus golf and tennis wouldn't be too shabby in a warmer climate!
How do you switch off after a day at work?
You can usually find me on the tennis court. I play for the David Lloyd Men's teams in Bromsgrove, and the competitive side of tennis certainly engages me. I enjoy the social side and banter that the sport provides.
If I'm not on the tennis court, I'm in the gym, doing yoga, playing golf, or spending time with my son.
If you had one wish for the future of your industry, what would it be?
My wish would be for there to be a collaboration between players in the supply chain, with transparency in contracts and the sharing of best practices.
The industry is continuously evolving, so sharing safety lessons or improvements as technology develops is crucial for the wider industry to grow safely and succeed.
How should people connect with you?
You can connect with me via LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lee-lindsay-59710113/.