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Lewis Turton

Career Path: Senior Contracts Engineer, Neptune Energy
Location: Algeria

My career began in 2002 working in construction and engineering - namely projects on behalf of Northumbrian Water and latterly some of the major petrochemical works in Teesside. I gained experience working for both consultancies and contractors, seeing things from both sides of the fence and being able to apply my academic learning in practice in the workplace, at the same time, which was invaluable.

I had aspirations to work internationally and targeted my career towards the heavy engineering or oil & gas sector. I began to develop an interest in the legal and contractual side of the construction and engineering industry, having enjoyed studying legal modules throughout my degree course, and had the opportunity to work on some challenging projects internationally that were in a state of distress, focusing on claims, arbitrations and adjudications. In 2012 I made the jump to work direct for a major oil & gas operator, Total, on a multi-billion pound new build gas plant project in the Shetland Islands. This then led to working with BP in Algeria on their flagship gas development project there, before a move within Algeria to a smaller independent oil & gas operator, Neptune Energy.

What are you doing now?Lewis Turton

I am working for an oil & gas operating company at one of their assets in the Algerian Sahara Desert. We work a 28 days on, 28 days off rotation at site. My role as Senior Contracts Engineer sees me as the focal point in the Projects team for all matters contractual - correspondence, claims and general contract management and administration duties and my QS background was easily transferrable to this sort of thing, although when I first began as a Trainee I assumed Quantity Surveying was all bricks and mortar, which it is not. In my career I have worked on construction sites, chemical plants, offshore oil & gas modules, maritime vessel construction and even a project concerning a Super Yacht.

What was it about Northumbria that made you decide to study here?

When I started my career as a Trainee QS in 2002 with F+G, there already existed an excellent relationship between Northumbria University and a number of locally based companies who offered part-time degree sponsorship whilst working full-time. Many of my first managers and other peers in the company were graduates of Northumbria and spoke highly of it. The course was also accredited by the RICS. Geographically it was convenient for me, living in Teesside and working around the North East region. I also had a lot of friends from sixth form college already studying there on a full-time basis who were great fans of the nightlife and social scene in Newcastle.

What was it like studying at Northumbria?

A mixture of lectures and seminars and occasional project weeks. Feedback was very thorough and constructive.

How connected was your course with industry?

Extremely connected as the firm I began my career with regularly placed a number of students each year on the part-time QS degree. The course was also RICS accredited and the vast majority of lecturers were Chartered Surveyors with significant industry experience.

What was the best thing about your course?

I particularly enjoyed the field trips - one to Berlin I recall. I also extremely enjoyed the modules on the history of architecture and the built environment. Contract Law was something that was initially daunting but I came to enjoy and which has lead me down the career path I am currently on.

How did studying at Northumbria help you achieve your career goals/ give your career an edge?

Having the RICS accredited degree qualification enabled me to swiftly rise through the ranks to Senior and Managerial positions, mentoring junior and trainee members of staff. Being degree qualified has vastly helped in obtaining visas for the different countries I have worked in, The mixture of a degree qualification and on the job experience at the same time was invaluable as by the time I graduated I also had 5 years work experience.

Which skills/knowledge did you learn on your course that you use most now throughout your career?

Contract law, measurement, project management, risk management - all vital tools for a professional working in the construction and engineering industries.

What did you enjoy most about your time at Northumbria University?

The location and the campus facilities were all excellent, in addition to the excellent staff and their invaluable industry experience.

What advice would you give somebody who is considering studying at Northumbria?

Consider it seriously! The range of courses on offer at Northumbria, with the choice of full-time, part-time and day release study, is excellent.

How would you describe your time at Northumbria in three words?

Productive, fun and challenging.

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