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Martyn Lass, Technical director, Atkins


Technical director

At Atkins, we aim to put our people and our clients at the heart of everything we do. But so often, Atkins is at the heart of our people too.

With more than 40 years’ service under his belt, Martyn has seen huge changes as Atkins has grown to become the company it is today. He’s also been part of some of the most exciting projects we’ve delivered. Here’s the story behind one of Atkins’ longest serving employees.

“I joined Atkins in 1970 and back then, things were very different. There were only 2,000 people in the business for starters. We were seen very
much as the leading industrial consultants and worked on lots of big civil engineering projects like steel mills, power stations, incineration plants, paper mills and highways.

The culture was different too. We were one group, one profit centre. Engineers didn’t just design things but also had to be project managers. Over the years, we’ve become far more commercially minded. But the idea of working as a team and delivering as a team has never changed.

There have been many transformations down the line. Back in 1991, we took on a small piece of telecoms work. Over the next 10 years, I played my part in building this business into a £5 million turnover operation. Technology has transformed the way we all work completely – from the first computers to smartphones – and the challenges have got bigger and better. I really enjoyed working on the Greenwich Peninsular project where we designed the whole of the infrastructure for the site and managed the construction works. It was fun watching the millennium celebrations and knowing I’d played my part in making that happen.

A few years later I became involved in the London 2012 Olympic Park project in Stratford, firstly as bid manager for infrastructure design and then as project manager for the enabling works. Of course, this was a huge one – the whole world was watching. With this kind of scale and complexity, I certainly didn’t have time to get bored. From arriving at the office to leaving, every day just flew by.

Probably the biggest challenge was getting everyone to collaborate and work together towards delivery. With about 20 major organisations involved, that can be tricky. Anyone who’s worked in this industry will know that it’s not always plain sailing, but achieving a level of cooperation is absolutely vital if you’re going to succeed. With so many stakeholders, the politics involved and such a global platform, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and it was a nice moment when I received my MBE, particularly as I was nominated by the people I had worked with on the project.

At Atkins, you get out what you put in and people tend to stick around – though not always for as long as I have – so we must be doing something right. The philosophy is that people work for other people and we need to be sure that we can trust each other. One family, one company – Atkins has still got that, even at the size we are now.

I suppose if I had to describe what makes an ‘Atkins person’, I’d say it’s about customer focus. People work to understand what customers really need, asking the right questions, giving them options and teasing out the right solution for them. Delivery is just as important though. You do what you say you’re going to do. It’s as simple as that.

Quite early on in my Atkins career, I realised the scale of opportunities that are available within the business. I was sitting on a plane for only the second time in my life, flying to Bahrain with my wife and children to work on a university project. I looked down at the vast expanse of desert and thought how amazing it was that I was there. Atkins gave me that opportunity and through all my years here, those opportunities have kept on coming.

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