Richard Cole – BSc (Hons) Civil and Coastal Engineering; MBA Business Administration graduate

Current Employer: Tamar Bridge & Torpoint Ferry Joint Committee

Current Job Title: Engineering Manager

Current Location: Plymouth

“It’s easy to forget the main reason why you’re at university, so my top tip is to maximise your potential by hard graft during those three or four years to increase your graduate opportunities.”

Tell us what you have been doing since completing your studies.

I worked for a major civil engineering contractor for the first two years after graduating, before joining a local civil/marine engineering contractor. I then spent time with both contractors working all over the UK and the Channel Islands. I then moved to a large engineering consultancy working on highways and tunnel schemes. I finally joined my current employer where I have been for approximately 11 years, managing engineering, maintenance, and construction projects.

What is the best, most exciting or fun thing that you have done in your career?

I have been privileged to stand on the very top of some of the world’s largest long span bridges at home in the UK, in Europe, America and Asia. I’m a bit of a big bridge nerd!

What would you do differently since graduating?

On a professional level, becoming a member of your chosen professional institute/institution is important. It will help with your career progression, it will be recognised amongst your peers, and you may increase your employability and earning potential as a result. It took me too long to grasp this nettle! On a personal level, take time to travel, play sport, immerse yourself in your chosen hobby – make sure your work/life balance is balanced! I still struggle to grasp that particular nettle!

Imagine you were about to start university again - with the benefit of hindsight - what would you now tell yourself to have done differently?

Play harder, work harder. It’s easy to forget the main reason why you’re at university, so my top tip is to maximise your potential by hard graft during those three or four years to increase your graduate opportunities. Treat it like you’ve already got the career/job of your dreams.

What was your main reason for choosing to study your course at Plymouth? With hindsight how significant was this for you?

The main reason why I choose Plymouth was because of the degree course: it was an opportunity to complete a degree with diving, in a coastal location, at a university with a great reputation.

How did we support you in your studies? If you used any support services whilst at the university how did they enable you to get to where you are today?

The University has changed a lot (and improved a lot) in recent years, and some of the current support networks weren’t in place for me. There’s so much on offer now. I think this reflects the changes in expectations of today’s undergraduates.

What is your favourite memory of studying for your degree at Plymouth?

The three closest friends (and now their young families) in my life today are those that I met on the first weekend in halls as a baby-faced fresher. We completed our degrees together, with many highs and lows, and have been lifelong friends ever since.

How well did Plymouth prepare you for the challenges that you have faced, or will face, in your career?

Plymouth provided the foundations for my career to date and I returned to complete my MBA some years after graduating from my first degree.

Hallsands coastal erosion