Stephen Vernon, Director

As a child, Stephen loved playing football but his favourite subjects at school were Art, Geography and Physics and it was the link to drawing and art that got him into engineering. Stephen loves precision drawing and likes to sketch for fun so when he first joined a drawing office it felt very natural. Absolutely instrumental to his development though was an engineer who took Stephen under his wing when he started working at 16. He made time for Stephen and had patience, slowly guiding him and making him into the engineer he is today.

Age: 48

Job title: Director

Company employed by: Mason Navarro Pledge

When you were a child, what did you dream you’d be when you grew up?
I had a really open mind but always felt I wanted to do something that had a wider value, and that had a tangible end product.

What is the biggest impact your work will or could have in the future?
The great thing about structural engineering is seeing buildings you have designed being constructed for use and adaption over the next 100 years. Each building has a unique impact and I’ve also been fortunate enough to work on some large mass transit schemes which make a real difference to local communities. I think the biggest impact we could have in the future would be to completely change the way we thing about our infrastructure – moving towards truly sustainable solutions that challenge us to live in a less impactful way.

What excites you most about STEM?
STEM careers have so much potential to make positive change. I see a lot of different people in my role as a STEM ambassador and the something that really connects us all is a desire to solve problems, push boundaries and make a positive impact. STEM led thinking underpins so many aspects of life and creates opportunities for positive change.

What do you love about your job? What would you change?
I love working collaboratively with teams of people to reach a common goal, and the personal feeling of accomplishment when you resolve a difficult problem. I would like to see more flexibility and personal life balance in the way we expect people to work in the future, which is something that may very well come out of our experiences of 2020.

What gives you the most job satisfaction?
Walking past a completed project with a great sense of pride, and working with so many inspirational people.

 

What does a typical day at work involve?
Working for a small to medium sized firm allows me to enjoy a wonderful variety of work, from client development and business running, to management of teams, meetings and presentations, technical design and monitoring installation of solutions. No two days are the same. I particularly enjoy working at the early stages of projects when there is most potential to influence the solution.

What’s the most unexpected thing about your job?
The construction industry is not as stereotypical as you might think. There is wide opportunity for all people and a huge potential to shape your career in the way you want it to go.

Did you have any role models when you were younger? What inspired you to do the job you’re doing now?
I was inspired to go into engineering through the link to drawing and art. I love precision drawing and sketch for fun so when I first joined a drawing office it felt very natural. Absolutely instrumental to my development was an engineer who took me under his wing when I started working at 16. He made time for me, and had patience.

Any influential toys during childhood?
My football – but dreams of playing for Everton were sadly not realised.

Your favourite subjects at school?
Art, Geography, Physics.

Qualifications (school/college/university):
8 GSCE, BTec ONC, BTec HNC, BEng(Hons) part time, Chartered Civil and Structural Engineer

Your reason for choosing this career?
I want into engineering because I loved drawing, but I close it as a career because I found the work to be fascinating. I loved being part of a collaborative team with a positive mindset.

Tell me about your career path to date?
I joined an engineering firm in Liverpool when I left school at 16, and did 4 years part study whilst undertaking an apprentice. This led to a part time degree over four more years and gave me opportunities to work overseas.

As a chartered engineer I was fortunate enough to experience life in working on a high-speed rail project in Taiwan and with a high-rise structures team in Dubai, which was a fantastic experience. I am now a partner at MNP and enjoy all aspects of running technical projects and a business with a great team of people.

We have a really strong portfolio of projects and work with some of the top developers and architects in the UK. Importantly, I still learn something new every day and we have a lot of fun.

If you could have any job what would it be? How does it differ from what you’re doing?
My career has evolved over time and I’ve been very fortunate with the choices I have made. A dream job would be to move into humanitarian engineering. The difference an engineer can make to a developing community is huge.

Your advice to a young person considering a career in STEM?
STEM careers offer wonderful opportunities for all. Take time to experience a variety of environments through work placement or internships before deciding your route. Remember that STEM careers are team sports. We need all sorts of people but you must be able to work in teams.

It is really important that you find a positive and supportive environment in which to develop your potential. Surround yourself with good people and opportunities will arise. When you see an opportunity - grab it, and you will have few regrets.