WCS is delighted to announce the appointment of Technical Director, Jeremy Barnes.
Jeremy joins us after a 32-year career in civil engineering that has taken him to Vietnam, Malaysia and Hong Kong, among other countries. As we discussed recently, WCS has been growing quickly. “Growth is a great affirmation for any company – you’re obviously doing something right,” says Managing Director Asa Whitfield. “But of course, you need to keep delivering with consistency in the way that has allowed you to grow. We’ve created this new role to have someone on our leadership team with the capacity to oversee all our current projects from a technical perspective and to ensure we deliver with that consistency.”
Although he has plenty of experience out on site, Jeremy’s career has mostly been on the design side of civil engineering. He holds chartered status from the Institution of Structural Engineers and the Institution of Civil Engineers and has links with Hong Kong’s HKIE, a reflection of his international career.
“I bring plenty of experience to the role but I know there’s still much to be learnt,” comments Jeremy. “I’m getting to know the company and its processes. WCS does a lot of work in the civil engineering of the power and energy sector and that’s one of the reasons I accepted the role – more opportunity to work in a fast-developing sector and on renewables projects.”
Most recently, Jeremy was a director at Hewson Consulting. “That was satisfying work, but it was the opportunity to really help shape a company that appealed to me about WCS,” adds Jeremy. “That was something founder and Managing Director Asa Whitfield emphasised especially in talking to me about the role – that I would have a chance to help write the story of what this company stands for, and what it achieves.”
Although the Technical Director role is focussed on company-wide responsibilities rather than project specific ones, Jeremy has been getting familiar with WCS by providing technical support on particular projects. “The company is growing, but it’s still a very collaborative group,” continues Jeremy. “What I was struck by, more than anything else, is the sense of team spirit. Each has their assigned projects, but everyone helps and pitches in, so if someone has a deadline, for example, they have a lot of support, including from the most experienced engineers in the senior team.”
From the outset, WCS has prioritised a formalised approach to engineering. For example, it is Railway Industry Supplier Qualification Scheme audited and accredited with ISO 9001, 14001 and 45001. It has an established and effective business management system and standardised resources such as templates for automatically verifying calculations for cable pulling and other technical challenges.
“The basis is strong”, says Jeremy, “and I know from personal experience across my career, the way it can work in practice is individual engineers may customise those resources, or transfer from project to project. It’s understandable, but it is important for us to continue to formally audit these processes and resources, and then approve a single version to ensure everyone is working to a verified high standard.”
Asked what he hopes to bring to WCS, Jeremy emphasised his good fortune in having worked with several individuals who are regarded as industry leaders. “You start out in engineering, and you’re just trying to absorb as much information as possible,” says Jeremy. “When it comes to technical knowledge, you’re very aware of that process, but what you appreciate more and more over time is the wider aspect of that skill transfer. You soak up things like how to understand and communicate better with clients. Part of my job, I think, is to do my best to pass that on to the engineers who are nearer the beginning of their careers.”