RGU graduate plays key role in university’s new campus project

Ewan McDonald
Ewan McDonald

A former construction management student at Robert Gordon University (RGU) has played a key role in the university’s newest addition to its multi-million pound campus development.

Ewan McDonald, 32, spent six years working as a bricklayer before making the decision to study Construction Design and Management at RGU’s Scott Sutherland School of Architecture and Built Environment.

Eight years after graduating and Ewan found himself back at the university’s Garthdee campus – this time in the role of project manager with Kier Construction for the build of the new Scott Sutherland School.

“It’s an unusual opportunity to be able to be involved in the replacement of the facility that I studied in,” Ewan said. “When I heard that Kier had won the contract I was very keen to be involved with the project.

“My links with the Scott Sutherland School have been helpful as I knew a lot of the staff. I worked as part of the project management team on the new building, with key tasks including organising the day to day running of the project, controlling costs and reporting and liaison with the client. Health, safety and environmental matters on site were also part of my role.”

He added: “I think the new school will be an excellent facility for the students to see first-hand some of the systems that we install on a daily basis and also the detailing and interface between materials.”

After obtaining his degree at RGU, Ewan went into a project manager role with Robertson Construction where he worked for around seven years before starting his current role with Kier Construction.

“I felt that I was not going to be out on sites all my working days,” Ewan explained. “The best route and something that interested me was coming to do a degree.

“Being told when I left school with only standard grades that I would not be able to go to university I never thought I would get in, but due to qualifications I gained during my apprenticeship I was accepted.

“I gained a lot of theory behind the practical knowledge I gained on site. I think my mix of onsite bricklaying and academic knowledge provides me with the ability to really connect with the guys on site and also provide a service to both my employer and the client.”

Ewan, who is currently Secretary at the Aberdeen branch of the CIOB (Chartered Institute of Building), added: “I have no doubt that I would not have progressed as well in my career without my degree. My practical site experience is also a key driver but my degree enabled me to get on to my first employers graduate programme which gave me a vast amount of coverage of the business and functions.”

Brian McQuade, managing director of Kier Construction’s Scotland and north-east England business, said: “It was an easy decision to get Ewan involved in this exciting project, given the significant role the Scott Sutherland School has played in his professional development.

“We have long supported graduates and apprentices looking to develop a career in the construction industry, and this is increasingly important as we look to mitigate the challenges posed by the skills gap. I am confident that one day, more people who have studied at this fantastic educational faculty will go on to work on similar high profile projects, perhaps even for Kier Construction.”

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