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More steps taken on my new career path

by Ben Lewis, Project Controls Academy trainee

It has been five months since I joined the Project Controls Academy (PCA). It really does not feel like it has been five months, which is a testament to how much I am enjoying being a part of the PCA. Despite only meeting my peers once for our induction, we have all bonded. I could not ask for a better group of people to be on this journey with. Moving to a new job is scary enough, but doing so during a global pandemic even more so. The camaraderie between us all has made it much easier, and being a part of such a supportive network has only spurred the motivation of each member of the PCA.

Before joining the PCA I had limited project controls experience, but this has greatly developed since joining i3Works. I have had teaching across planning and scheduling, enhancing skills that I had begun to cultivate in a previous role, but to a much more robust and comprehensive standard. What has struck me most is the vastness of the planning discipline. I could use scheduling software previously, such as P6 or MS Project, but I have come to realise this is a small part of planning and there is greater depth regarding the knowledge needed to fulfil this role. Being afforded the experience in producing my own planning artefacts within an environment where I can make mistakes and learn has been invaluable, with the guidance of our teachers and mentors providing the constructive criticism required to allow me to continuously improve. With thanks to this support, and my own hard work, I now possess a foundation and practitioner level qualification in Project Planning and Control (PPC)

The same can be said regarding a risk module we recently completed. Having no experience with risk when joining the PCA, this was an opportunity to learn something completely new, which I have relished. There has been the opportunity to become an expert on an area of risk, where we each presented slides within a specialist risk subject. My topic was an exploration of top-down and bottom-up approaches; seeing interplay between the two has allowed me a greater understanding of best practice when it comes to organisational risk and the strategies different sectors employ to suit their needs. I have the confidence that, with time and with the continuing support of i3Works, I will continue gaining qualifications and hope to be successful in passing my Management of Risk foundation and practitioner this month. Either way, I am excited to start utilising the skills I have acquired in a real world setting.

One of the things I am most proud of so far is our first project delivered as the i3Institute! We have been working closely with the Genesis Trust in Bath to deliver a new online gift shop and an accompanying launch event. It has been wonderful developing our solutions and creating something from nothing. Knowing that our work will make a difference to the charity and homeless people in Bath makes it all the more rewarding. The event itself was a success, raising £350 for the charity in raffle tickets, and the online gift shop went online without any issues. You can find out more about the Genesis Trust here, or you can visit the shop and maybe buy something?

Other parts of my experience so far have exposed me to the wider business and taken me out of my comfort zone. I have undertaken internal work with the social media and comms team to build skills I had never used before and this has been an insightful opportunity. Being part of the team to help develop ideas for content has been eye opening as it has shown me that we all have a voice and can raise ideas, which has massively boosted my confidence. Volunteering to write this post is a testament to that, as it shows how much I have come out of my shell in the past six months.

The other side of my internal work has been working with the sales team. Once again, this was an area I knew little to nothing about, so it has been interesting to get involved in everything that comes with it. Sales has exposed me to working in an Agile way as we produce content in two-week sprints, which has proven to be an effective way of working for me as it has helped me see that things do not have to be perfect first time and can be worked on over time to provide continuous value. Another positive is that by moving through work per sprint I am being exposed to a much greater variety of work. One week could be bid work, the next developing a process or writing model answers for future bids to draw upon. Exposure like this has shown me there is a whole lot more to consultancy than just the areas I have training in.

Overall, making the switch to i3Works has been an excellent decision. From the people to the culture, to the work and training, this company has opened my eyes to a lot that I had missed previously in other roles. There are not many places you are able to work with people purely virtually and still feel just as much part of a team as if we were in an office. I am excited to see what comes next, and am sure I will be back to post with future updates from my journey in the PCA.

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