Updated: Nov 20
Oscar has been an apprentice project manager at Iconic for over a year now. In this article he tells how his worked has evolved, how his responsibility has increased alongside his knowledge and experience, and how his time has become a precious resource that needs to be managed carefully.
It’s hard to believe that I’ve already been an apprentice construction project manager at Iconic for over a year now. Over that time, my role has steadily evolved.
The start of my journey involved being a general support tool for senior project managers with a free-flowing calendar that allowed me to jump into any given piece of work at any given time. This was great because it allowed me to fairly quickly gain a large understanding on a wide array of project types and processes.
Over the course of the year, I have been receiving a larger quantity of work, with much more responsibility. As someone who likes working under pressure, this has been received with open arms!
Put it in the diary
With these added responsibilities, however, my time has become increasingly scarce. To ensure all my deadlines are still met to a good standard, managing my diary and planning out my time has become a top priority.
With some guidance from Darren and Mike, I have been able to structure my diary day by day. They advised me to make sure I put absolutely everything in my diary – it sounds stupidly obvious but it really works. I am meeting all deadlines and still going on home on time, most of the time anyway…
My project portfolio has taken an exciting journey over the last year. From August to October 2022 I was mainly involved in Barclays and Poke House document control and travelling around the country doing various site surveys. Highlights included visiting lovely places such as a dilapidated restaurant unit in Cambridge and a trip to Ilford High Street.
Eventually, I was given my first project to manage: a small works programme across the Barclays estate. This was a big step up for me as I went from mainly administrative tasks, with the odd site visit, to being in charge of a 107-branch programme of works.
It was a bit daunting but, even with the added responsibility and pressure, it was still my only main workstream so keeping on top of my time was still not a problem.
As time progressed, I started to work on various other projects alongside the Barclays small works programme. I spent a happy few weeks with my nose buried in the Nisbets catalogue, procuring kitchen equipment for Poke House, and I did a bit of change control management at Southampton Airport.
I love to be busy, so I was excited by my increased workload, but it made me realise how quickly your time can become scarce if it is not managed appropriately.
With a rising sense of panic, I raised my concerns with Darren and Mike and they steered me on the path of using my time much more effectively. In short, they reminded me to make to-do lists and put everything in my diary. Simple but effective advice.
If you want to know more about to-do lists for effective time management, read this article on ‘one minute to-do lists’.
Currently, I am working on small works projects across the Barclays estate, similar to my original tasks but with slightly more responsibility. I am also working as an assistant project manager to Mike on various Poke House restaurant fit-out projects.
Lately I have begun working with a new client, Choppaluna, in the role of project manager to fit-out a target of 15 quick service restaurants projects per year.
The first of these projects is taking place in Shandwick Place, Edinburgh. Geographically, this will be very time consuming so managing my time will become more important than ever before!
I visited the site for the first time last week and, because I had an otherwise full week, I needed to get there and back from Wokingham in the same day. The journey involved cars, planes, trams and buses, and I didn’t even get to set eyes on the castle (people tell me it's impressive, unmissable and apparently only around the corner from the site), but I did make it there and back in the day.
As I’ve gained knowledge and experience over the last year, expectations have become higher both in terms of what the company expects from me but also of what I expect from myself.
I’m trusted to complete work with less guidance (although support is always there when I need it) but I know that, if I mess up, it’s because I’ve messed up, not because I don’t know what I’m doing.
The importance of relaxation
I enjoy that, over the last year, my workload has increased significantly. It gives me a much faster paced, time-driven work life that suits me.
It can be a bit stressful though and I don’t want to be burnt out before I’m 20. To avoid this, I focus on relaxing outside of work.
I recently took up golf and I’m an avid football fan, so my time is usually spent with golf, football and more golf. If this project management gig goes wrong, you’ll find me on the next PGA tour...
Find out more...
Oscar was Iconic’s first project management apprentice and is currently studying BSc Construction Management (MRICS) at the University College of Estate Management.
In his first year alone, he took full responsibility for successfully delivering small programmes of works, including kiosk retrofit projects for Poke House and 107 small works projects across the Barclays estate.