Director: Immerse UK
Charles Hill studied Construction Engineering Management at Loughborough University. Following his graduation in 2013, Charles went into a graduate job, and now has his own company alongside fellow alumnus, Karl Pallas. Here you can find out about his engineering journey at Loughborough and beyond.
From a young age, I was always interested in the built environment. Always stopping to have a quick look at large construction projects to try and understand what was going on, how it was being built, what equipment they were using etc. During my final year at school I looked at a number of vocational construction-related courses and liked the look of this course at Loughborough.
Furthermore, the course offers sponsorship and employment opportunities with a consortium of tier 1 contractors before graduating. Finally, Loughborough’s Civil and Building Engineering department have an exchange programme with a university in Hong Kong, so if you like travel, which I certainly do, it is very easy to spend a semester studying abroad. I did this and it was an experience that I would recommend to every student.
Loughborough University has a global reputation for leading research within the construction sector. The speakers and content within the curriculum enables students to understand the construction landscape and make informed decisions about your future.
Furthermore, there is always a lecturer working on some form of construction innovation that students are always encouraged to help with or learn about, which I always found interesting.
Would there be one piece of advice that you would give to current or prospective students looking to study the same course that you did?
I would have two bits of advice. Firstly take advantage of Loughborough’s relationships with industry. The department has strong links with some of the largest contractors, who can offer you sponsorship and work placement opportunities during your studies. Secondly, make the most of the Exchange Programme and study abroad. Personally these were some of my most interesting times.
Did you take part in any extra-curricular activities during your studies? If so, how did this impact upon your Loughborough experience?
Loughborough has more extra-curricular activities than you can shake a stick at. If you think of a potential activity, it is highly likely that it will already exist and you can take part. I personally didn’t do a huge amount, as I was often playing golf at a local golf club.
Before starting at Loughborough, I secured sponsorship from Kier Group. Throughout university Kier were excellent in helping within any requirement I had, this could have been a bit of coursework, to a summer placement.
Upon graduating I spent my first 6 months working for Kier Eastern on a university campus as well as a school refurbishment.
I then requested to move to a larger project and was offered a place with Kier Infrastructure and Overseas with a role at Farringdon (the Crossrail Project). I spent the next two years working there and was awarded several promotions.
Fellow alumnus, Karl and I then saw an opportunity to set up a business to distribute a new tech that had been developed within Silicone Valley that we believed would sit very well within the construction market. We registered the business in January 2016, but didn’t start trading until July 2016. The business started growing quickly and went full time at the start of this year.
The transition was easy, at the time of graduation I had done two summer placements with Kier during my time at University so understood what was required of me. The great thing about these placements is that there are no ‘unknowns’ when starting as a graduate at your first job. I would strongly recommend this to any student and personally think employers look at this commitment in a very good light.
We decided to set the business up primarily as we saw it as an opportunity as well as a journey. Karl and I are both very ambitious and wanted a different sort of challenge than what we faced working for Kier, at least in the short term.
It is difficult to know where to start, setting up a business sounds far easier than it is in practice. The list of challenges is quite substantial. It feels like we have a new challenge each week; however this is always part of a new businesses journey.
Good question. Keep your eyes open for disruptive construction tech.