Top Tips to Become a Design Manager (Structural Engineer Background)

Top Tips to Become a Design Manager (Structural Engineer Background)

 7 Nov 2018

    Design Manager

Top Tips to Become a Design Manager (Structural Engineer Background)

In this blog we spoke to a main contractor Design Manager with over 30 years industry experience to get their advice and tips on how to progress into a Design Manager role based on their experience transferring over from a Structural Engineer background.

Top tips -

1) Gain as much knowledge as possible when attending project sites and site Design meetings with regards to all other non-structural discussions, try note and listen to other Consultants when they provide overviews of their specialisms. Basically listen, learn and if in doubt always ask questions as often as possible. To become a Design Manager, a Structural Engineer would have to have a minimum level of experience in both MEP (Mechanical, Electrical and Plant systems and Architecture as the link in particular with MEP on the structure of any project always needs an integrated approach between all 3 main consultants.

2) The route I took from Structural to Design Management was a lengthy one really, as I had opportunities to diversify away from delivering more than just carrying out Structural Engineering duties e.g I became a Manager for Boots PLC and developed my skills to provide a service that included integrating in-house Design work, carrying out surveys/Feasibility studies on prospective properties across the UK for Boots PLC. This allowed me to get heavily involved with Architects and MEP in providing fully integrated solutions for all activities i.e Maintenance/Assessing conditions of existing buildings, producing a project list of works required/Schedules of planned activities/Feasibility studies for a range of clients

3)  Only by having a desire to look at other sectors of construction can a Structurally biased person really have the range of skills required and this can take years to achieve, in fact as a DM you never stop learning as it's so important to continue with as much training as possible and attend CPD seminars on Safety, new construction materials, Building Regulations updates/CDM compliance/MEP and Architectural based topics

4) Get to know and appreciate more the actual level of information and detailing that Architects and Building Services consultants require as traditionally Structural Engineers tend to be totally focused on the main structure and not really get too excited by all of the other remaining elements like internal fitting out/Landscaping works/Acoustics/Internal and external lighting/ internal finishes throughout etc.

These are only a few of the many items that Engineers will need to consider when considering becoming a DM or Design Co-Ordinator. The list is endless, and a high level of project planning is a key skill they will need to ensure the Design team are working to a carefully planned Design and Procurement programme to ensure all information is being produced to a level that is both contractually accurate and buildable.

Therefore developing Design and Build planning skills and fully understanding the build sequence are key skills that an Engineer would need to develop further to appreciate the Contractors proposals and are key to ensuring the design process is being reviewed in line with the Clients/Employers requirements .

5) Maybe even consider working initially for a Specialist Sub-Contractor as a Design Manager/Co-ordinator is a very good way to get into mainstream DM with main contractors.

As an example, I left Structural Engineering and went to a Cladding contractor to gain experience in Design processes and found my engineering experience invaluable when relating the external elements of buildings with structural design and developed knowledge of various cladding, roofing and curtain walling systems. With the experience and knowledge gained with a sub-contractor I found the transition into main contracting less daunting as you gain so much experience by dealing with Architects and clients in a more detailed technical level.

6) Probably the best advice I could ever give to any budding DM from structural background would be to never lose the skills you have learnt from engineering as its a huge advantage to be able to bring past structural design experiences and ideas into a Design Manager role and when you're in Design workshops and meetings its such an advantage to be able to utilize those skills, allowing you to have confidence as a Design Manager to be more critical with Structural Engineers when they are suggesting their way is the best i.e You are able to challenge SE's with confidence and knowledge, with the ability to suggest other structural options that should be considered.

Talk Recruitment Ltd are specialist recruiters of Design Managers, for more advice on this topic call us on 0121 748 1433, or alternatively browse our Design Manager Vacancies and Register with us for upcoming Design Coordinator / Design Manager opportunities