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Meet Ben, an apprentice and agent for change

Ben Craig | Assistant Quantity Surveyor at SNC-Lavalin’s Faithful+Gould business

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Well at SNC-Lavalin’s Faithful+Gould business you can. Ben Craig started as an Apprentice and after diving into a few projects, turned his wickedly analytical mind to showing us an entirely new way to do, what we do.

Ben’s Story: I started out doing a work experience placement at the Faithful+Gould business. It was really successful, so I was offered a Higher Apprenticeship, and started here as a Trainee Quantity Surveyor (QS) in September 2015! I cut my teeth on a variety of projects in the education sector and have also been developing an exciting new Digital Tool called ‘Envision’… But first I’ll tell you about some of my projects:

Edgbaston Park Hotel and Conference Centre

A £28million, 172 bed Hotel and Conferencing facility, set in a conservation area which forms part of one of the world’s top 100 institutions estate. The hotel provides visitors with an inspiring place to meet and stay, in a quiet spot on the edge of campus.  My role on the project included reporting to the client any changes to the construction cost as well managing the furniture budget and expenditure to ensure that the project was delivered on time, within budget and to an aspirational quality. 

Elite Centre for Manufacturing Skills

A very challenging project that comprised refurbishment of a listed building incorporating some new build elements to create a teaching facility for manufacturing students. Due to the nature of the existing building there were many issues encountered whilst on site which as part of my role on the project I had to agree costs of these changes with the contractor and report to the client the implications of these. I learnt so much on this project — from how to manage a contractor to understanding and administrating the contract.

Expansion of a university’s student residences

The main challenge with this project was to balance the cost impact of constructing 532 student beds within a conservation area with the commercial viability of the project. I assisted with the preparation of cost reports and feasibility studies for this scheme. I’ve been able to use some of my work on Envision to speed up cost planning on this project. It has empowered the rest of my team to spend more time looking at specific items on the project, which ultimately is a big benefit to our client. So on to Envision…

My big opportunity to innovate

Envision is basically a tool that helps us define better briefs at the start of projects and create faster, more accurate estimates. When I first heard the raw idea for Envision, I got it. And I thought, I think I can take this somewhere! I started out by talking to key members of the business. I tapped into their years of technical knowledge to help me understand the intricacies of costs and different builds. I also spent many hours developing its ‘Rules Engines’ to make it work across different asset types.

Happy to work at a business that embraces change

It’s something I’m really excited about because it can make a real difference beyond our cost process. We’ll be able to plan better, and clients will be able to make clearer decisions. Budgets will become more accurate, construction sites less congested, build times shorter. There will be more ‘perfect days,’ free from accidents and injuries. We’ll be able to spend more energy on being client-centered, less on re-work and just get on with more valuable activities.

Right now I’m really looking forward to being part of the team who will showcase Envision at our Digital Services Client Event in London this October. Wish me luck!

A word from the top…

“Ben’s ability to research, collaborate, develop and construct complex parametric cost models has been quite remarkable. This doesn’t happen by chance — it demands certain personal attributes and behaviours. In Ben, they are abundant — a can-do attitude; a mature, analytical mind; enviable resourcefulness and determination to continuously improve what we do. Envision is changing the way we engage with our clients, changing our clients’ perception of us as innovators. This is a clear differentiator helping us to win work and deliver better quality work more effectively.”
– Mark Brain, Director, SNC-Lavalin’s Faithful+Gould business

Sound good? Find out more about our Apprenticeship opportunities by visiting our Early Careers Pages.