Simon Bennett

  • Current role: Head of Learning Legacy, Crossrail
  • Year of graduation: 1995
  • Degree course: Civil Engineering

ISimon BennettIf you are having any difficulty with your course, speak to your tutor at the earliest opportunity, they want to help and they will want to help a self-starter even more.

We asked Simon...

What is your current role and how did you get to this point in your career?

My role as Head of Learning Legacy is to collate and promote the lessons learned in delivering the Crossrail programme for the benefit of future major infrastructure projects. I have worked for the last 19 years on the development, authorisation and delivery of this £14.8bn scheme, which was the biggest engineering project in Europe.

How did your studies at the University of Hertfordshire help shape your career?

My degree in Civil Engineering was of course important in working on infrastructure projects, but it was the fact that I took a sandwich course, and found for myself an industrial placement with the original Crossrail project in 1993 that was most influential.

In that year I learnt so much about how projects are taken from an idea to feasibility studies and into the authorisation process that my career path turned towards transport planning and stakeholder communication.

What made you decide to study at this University?

The quality of the Civil Engineering course was high, a campus university appealed and also Hatfield was far enough from home in Essex to be away, but close enough for emergencies.

What was the best or most useful thing about your course?

The sandwich year, by a long long way.

What is your stand out memory from your time at the University?

Most of my memories relate to Drama Society productions, which I variously acted in, directed and even wrote. Producing shows with UHDS taught me as much that was of value for the future as my course did.

When I look back I find it hard to believe we did all that, at such an age, basically because no-one told us we couldn’t.

Are you still in contact with friends you met at the University of Hertfordshire?

Absolutely. Dozens and dozens of them. Nearly all from UHDS or the Students’ Union rather than from my course.

What advice would you give your younger self if you were starting at the University tomorrow?

I feel I had such a privileged education, with mostly full grants and a student loan only in my final year, that I would be out of touch to say it, but it would be not to get a part time job. Use your time for studies and everything else that University life affords. I wish this was still possible for all students.

Beyond that, if you are having any difficulty with your course, speak to your tutor at the earliest opportunity, they want to help and they will want to help a self-starter even more.

Do you have any advice for University of Hertfordshire graduates who are considering a career in your industry?

Firstly, do a sandwich degree. As early as you can in your second year, research and approach companies who might be willing to give you a placement, and maybe sponsor you beyond that.

While you are there, make yourself known, it’s surprisingly easy to impress people and once you have, it will pay back many times over.

What are your future career plans/ ambitions?

I’d like to start again with another major programme, it’s the early stages when the team is small and the canvas relatively blank, that you can have an impact.

I might look overseas, as British expertise is well respected now and with the world heading to more than 50% living in cities mass transit and other infrastructure will continue to be in high demand.

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