Shaun Millar graduated from Edinburgh Napier University in 2015 with his BSc (Hons) Construction and Project Management qualification. Inspired to get into the construction industry by notable projects such as the Forth Bridges and the Burj Khalifa, Shaun has since worked his way up the ranks at Robertson Construction now holding a role as Site Manager.
We sat down with Shaun to find out more about his story so far.
Tell us a bit about yourself
My name is Shaun Millar, I studied Construction and Project Management at Edinburgh Napier University and graduated in 2015, before that I studied Sport and Exercise Science for two years and made the switch in 2011.
I am 29 and grew up in Edinburgh. I have always been interested in playing and watching sports as well as attending music concerts. I like to travel and spend most of my time off travelling the world learning about new cities and countries, ticking locations and places to visit off my bucket list.
Why did you choose to study at Edinburgh Napier University?
It allowed me to study in Edinburgh and not have to move away from home.
When applying, I heard from a lot of people that lecturers were known to have a lot of good industry knowledge as well as academic knowledge. I found this appealing as I worked the days I wasn’t in university.
What are the key skills you learned during your time at Edinburgh Napier University?
Practical skills relating to my studies – project management, timekeeping, construction theory and methods.
Also, I developed my teamwork, leadership, social and organisational skills from my studies and through representing the university hockey team during my 6 years at Edinburgh Napier.
How would you sum up your student experience at Edinburgh Napier University?
There was always lots to do as a student in Edinburgh all year round. Playing for Napier’s Hockey team allowed me to travel the country weekly and build a lot of friendships with people from all over the world.
On campus everything you needed to succeed was available and some of the best facilities.
How has your career developed since graduating?
Since leaving Edinburgh Napier in 2015, I have progressed through my career path from a Graduate Site Manager to an Assistant Site Manager and now to a Site Manager whilst working with Robertson Construction.
My day to day role is to put the different trades onsite to work each day and checking their work meets industry standards and matches the drawing we work to. On my current project for Scottish Fire and Rescue service we are working within a live fire station, so I liaise with the on call staff daily on our work plans to avoid any disruptions to their emergency service.
Do you feel these skills and your degree has made a difference in your career? If so, how?
Yes as they have given me a lot more confidence as a person and in the work I am doing. Working on a construction site you have to deal with people from all nationalities and backgrounds. This is something that attending Napier has helped with as my classes had a mixed background and so did my teammates for the hockey teams.
Why did you want to get into the profession you’re in?
I have always had an interest in how things are built and big infrastructure projects like the Burj Khalifa in Dubai and the Forth Bridges in Edinburgh made me want to get involved in Construction.
What is the typical day like in the life of someone in your profession?
Very busy. From the time I get onsite until I leave site I am usually on the go and covering a lot of miles onsite. With the current COVID situation I carry out a morning briefing with each trade and also carry out temperature and welfare checks with each operative before they start work. After this I spend the day onsite checking the work carried out by the trades and helping with any queries they may have. I also monitor the safety performance of the various trades and make sur they carry their work out safely. Construction has a lot of paperwork so I have daily and weekly inspections to carry out for the site to make sure we comply with Health and Safety Legislation as well as ordering of any equipment and materials needed onsite.
What impact does your profession have and what do you think your sector will look like in the future?
Construction has a big impact in terms of jobs across the country and completing projects for clients from all industries and organisations. My 6 years work since I left university has seen me building private and social housing, a new recycling centre, university lecture rooms and research laboratories and refurbishing a live fire station.
In the future I see construction continuing to evolve and providing the infrastructure that other sectors need and also building the houses required to meet the demands. Construction is a very dangerous industry and I hope to see the Health and Safety side of things continuing to improve and people learning from past accidents and incidents.
What are your highlights of studying at Edinburgh Napier University?
Making a lot of new friends and visiting new places. Learning from people who have “been there and done it” within my industry and learning from their experiences. Seeing the university develop in the time I was there – the Sighthill Campus was built and opened as well as the student accommodation at Fountain Park whilst I attended Napier. The successes I had with the Napier Hockey Teams and the celebrations after!
And my biggest highlight was walking onstage to collect my degree at the Usher Hall.
Any career tips or advice for recent graduates?
One thing I found that has helped me in my career is working part time during my time at university. I worked 2 days a week for a house builder in Edinburgh and this allowed me to see the theory of my studies in real life. I spent my summers working as a labourer on sites and this has helped me see things from the perspective of the operatives who now work onsite for me. In construction especially I have found that the trades/operatives assume that if you’re fresh from university you have no clue about how construction sites work, and it always surprised them when they realise what I had picked up during my part time work.
For any graduates I would recommend building as big a network as possible of people within your chosen industry and others. I have noticed that a lot of my network has grown from playing in hockey teams since I started high school and you play alongside people from all sorts of backgrounds and industries. Building these relationships and those with clients/suppliers has helped me a lot during my early years in work.
The BSc Construction and Project Management course is no longer running. Click here to view our available Building & Surveying courses.