Junior Project Manager Chelsea’s Staff Spotlight

Junior Project Manager Chelsea Williams talks to us about her family's military background, how the UK Land team keeps her smiling through lockdown, and her recent promotion.

In the first Staff Spotlight of 2021, Junior Project Manager Chelsea Williams talks to us about her family’s military background, how the UK Land team keeps her smiling through lockdown, and her recent promotion.

Chelsea has been with SafeLane Global for more than 3 and a half years.  In that time her organisational skills and adaptability have made her absolutely essential to the successful delivery of our UK Land projects.

How has your professional role evolved since you started working at SafeLane?

I joined as a project coordinator.  This role evolved as I took on more commercial responsibility, such as managing the invoicing process at the end of the month.

During our long project in Barrow in 2019, our Project Manager had to remain on site to oversee the delivery of the work. This meant there was more to be done in the office, I was happy to be given the opportunity to step up and fill this gap.

It was a busy time. The other project coordinator had left so it was a transitional period, the company needed me to push myself.  Although it felt a little manic at times, I was happy to just get on with it!  I enjoyed being given a taste for the tasks of a Project Manager and to show that I had aptitude to do the job.

At the end of the Barrow project, normality returned!  I was promoted to Junior Project Manager last July. It was wonderful to have my commitment recognised.

So, what are the main responsibilities of your role now?

As Junior Project Manager, my main responsibility is scheduling all the work in.  We use Microsoft Project to track our schedules, manning and availability.  In order to do this, I need to liaise with the commercial team regularly.  Strong cross department communication is key to ensuring we are effectively delivering our clients’ needs.

Client relations are also a huge part of my job.  I am one of the main points of contact and am there for the clients to make sure we are providing good service, to supply progress updates, and overcome any challenges that may arise.

The construction sector always needs an agile approach to project management as in spite of your best laid plans, the environment can cause things to change.  I support contract management and if there are any changes, I ensure everything is agreed in writing.

It sounds like you need to have excellent organisation skills to do your job?

Well yes!  It is extremely busy; we have a lot of ongoing projects at any given time, so we have to be organised.  There is always a lot of admin that comes with our work too.  Staying on top of everything is a balancing act really, it’s a full team effort.

Do you have any involvement in the unexploded ordnance (UXO) side of things?

Yes, I write the final clearance report.  This provides full details of the work conducted and anything we find.

Did you ever expect to have a career in UXO?

Haha, no!  It’s SO unique.  One of my favourite things about the job is the historical elements of it. I’ve loved going into this really niche field and learning about all the different types of UXO.

Whenever there is a find, I love to learn where would it have come from?  What country?  Why is it there?  How was it used?  History was always my favourite subject at school, so I love adding to my knowledge.

Also, my Welsh family are military focused.  Many family members are and were in the Navy as well as the army, my uncle is still serving.  My family are really proud that I’m working in this sector, I’m always being asked about UXO finds!

I have huge respect for the military.  A lot of our team is ex-military, I’m used to these types of personalities and their amazing work ethic, it makes me feel really at home.

Is the military link your favourite part of the job?

This is close but actually it’s the teamwork side of it.  The UK Land department is amazing, there is a real family vibe to the team.  We enjoy each other’s company on a personal level, which is good given how much time we need to spend communicating.

This last year has been emotionally tough for even the strongest of people.  Being able to have a bit of a laugh during a team meeting is so amazing.  Even though we can’t see each other face to face, those relationships are still there and are being maintained digitally.  It’s been strange but shows how close we are. My colleagues have definitely kept me smiling.

This bond means that you feel comfortable to be yourself and to ask any questions needed or reach out for support.  Everyone is willing to muscle in and help each other out.  If someone is having a particularly manic week or is feeling a little snowed under, the team comes together to help.

We have a start and end of day call. We go over priorities for the day and see where we’ve got to at the end. It gives full visibility into workloads and enables some face-to-face time. Having this kind of team is such a good driver for me. I always want to push hard and do my best for my team!

What is the biggest challenge of the job?

We face unpredictable changes every single day.  This is really typical in the construction sector, even with best laid plans problems arise.  Teams need to be agile.

As I run the scheduling, typically I will have to move 5 or 6 different things to accommodate 1 change.  A big part of managing the scheduling is about fast paced problem solving.

Sometimes a change can require the team to come together and brainstorm a solution.

What is the most interesting project you’ve worked on and why?

We’ve had so many!  The one that stood out is the Orkney Island project we did last year.  For us, this was a longer project, running from June – December.

This is also the furthest across the UK we’ve worked – the mobilisation and getting people there was so fun!  We had some interesting travel arrangements to suss out as we had to work with tides, which was a new consideration for our team… so were the schedules of the nesting birds!

Our work had to be planned around the wildlife, which is not something you have to worry about when working in the centre of London.  I love animals, so this was a really nice aspect of delivery. The guys on the project sent me a lot of animal pictures, which always made me smile.

We were supporting the safe connection of subsea electrical cabling that then came up through the land.  We provided non-intrusive surveys and had engineers conducting watching briefs.  The environment certainly made this project really special.

What do our services help clients achieve?

The first things that come to me are peace of mind, safety, and reassurance. The entire point of our service is to ensure that clients are clear and safe when digging into any ground.

We do all sorts of things – there is a big range of work that requires ground drilling after all!  Though we get to survey ahead of a lot of piling for new buildings, wind and solar farms are becoming more popular too – we’re currently ensuring workers will be safe while constructing a solar farm in Cambridgeshire for example.

We also support housing and commercial developments.  Whenever there is a need for groundwork, we have the skills to make that work safe basically.

What is a typical day at work like for you?

This is the hardest question; every day can be so different.  I guess most days do tend to follow a bit of a pattern though, for example my mornings are always hectic!

Everything seems to kick off in the morning, clients start early and may be in need of urgent information.  Also, I always process data from the day before and issue this to our clients.

In the afternoon, clients will be on site and their work will be well under way so I can focus on admin, cost tracking, and reporting.

What did you do before working at SafeLane?

I was a document controller working for different construction companies doing all of their documents and drawings – it was my responsibility to ensure the guys on site had all the up-to-date drawings.  I loved working in the construction industry, I really liked the pace of work and the people.

Luckily, it means I know our client base really well and understand their needs!

How has SafeLane changed since you began?

Well, I’ve been here for almost 4 years and in that time, we’ve moved offices, rebranded, had a lot of new staff AND we’ve expanded in pile probing and water well drilling.

Utilising our assets for other things has been a really strong idea. I think at the minute the company is the strongest that I’ve seen it; change and innovation are part of the culture now. I think this is a change that comes from the top down. Our CEO, Adam, has instilled a mindset of pushing to progress and evolve.

It’s not about just doing the normal day in day out work, we constantly look for ways to improve and become more commercially minded.

It’s been particularly exciting to see the companies merge and to have seen the purchase of WB & AD Morgan – we’re always growing and changing.  It makes the entire business offering so much stronger.  The same core team and family feeling have always been there though – the office has always had a strong vibe.  However, this resilience now focuses on continual improvement, it’s been a great amount of change to see.

What is the most exciting opportunity SafeLane has given you?

The opportunity to be in charge of the schedule for UK land – it is like the engine room of the entire department.  We can’t run without this.  It’s a huge responsibility to say I’m in charge of it, it’s the core of my job and I take it super seriously.

Being trusted with this huge business priority makes me so proud to do it, I love having the responsibility.  I always want to evolve and grow in my career – so when the day came last year where I was asked if I’d take on the tole of Junior Project Manager, it was actually an honor that it was recognised that I was capable.  It made me feel really valued.

This recognition and development of my role really solidified my career at SafeLane.  To have a job you love where you know you’re doing good work and you’re appreciated is rare – and I feel so lucky, it’s the best job I’ve ever been given – and the best team.

Chelsea is a passionate, motivated and adaptable colleague – she is fantastic at her role and a great point of contact for the UK Land clients. The marketing team would like to thank her for her time and for letting us shine a spotlight on her great work.