The life & times of an HVAC Engineer

For the last 6 or so months I’ve been the project engineer for various projects, but one has run throughout the majority of my secondment. That project is going to be issued to the client today, and that is going to be a massive relief. Over the months that the project has been running (including the best part of 8 months before I came on board) the it has been much delayed and changed. Without wishing to get into the dangerous topics of fault, error and blame, no matter what the real reasons for delays and changes they have resulted in me sometimes feeling like I’ve been managing it really badly. Thankfully it is now coming together, the client seems happy, but I still have some of the sensation of “could do better”. Now admittedly it has been the first time I’ve done something like this, so there were always going to lessons to learn, but I still didn’t feel great about how things have gone. But comments made in the last couple of days have really made me feel less to blame.

So who made those comments & what were they? Were they from my managers? Were they ‘you’re doing a grand job’?

Oddly enough, no…

The comments my ego and conscience are treasuring most were made by the draftsmen on the project. It turns out that it’s the little throw away comments from someone else who has been affected that matter the most. Specifically, on occasions when they could have chosen to blame me for delaying the project by not getting them the right information first time round, these comments were made:

“I’ve read through that e-mail you forwarded…it’s like squeezing blood from a stone!”
“we asked the right questions at the right time”

We. We. We. It’s incredible how much that one little word makes you realise that you really are part of a team, and that you’re wanted on that team.

I’ve learnt a lot on this project, much of it about how projects run from a project management point of view, or about the commercial aspects of projects. But I’ve also learnt a lot about myself, teams, and tackling issues. Mainly, I’ve learnt that being part of a team, rather than a collection of individuals, provides a safety net that no amount of procedures or motivation from management could ever possibly replace.
I’ve also learnt that the grease to make the well-oiled machine of an engineering team run smoothly is chocolate biscuits.


et cetera
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