Charlene Geddes Geotechnical Engineer
I work at various sites all over Scotland, so the backdrop to my workplace is the Highlands and Grampians, one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. Who could ask for more?

Charlene Geddes Geotechnical Engineer, BAM Ritchies

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New doors are always opening. It’s just a case of which ones you want to open.

I was looking for a practical role that involved being out and about in the great outdoors.

Charlene Geddes is a geotechnical engineer at BAM Nuttall Ltd, a market leading civil engineering contractor. She works for BAM Ritchies, the specialist geotechnical business unit of BAM Nuttall Ltd, in its Drill and Blast Department. She joined in 2014.

Charlene is the first female in the UK to gain the MPQC Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Shotfiring. The 28-year-old geography and geoscience graduate from the University of Aberdeen achieved her NVQ qualification in June 2017 and has already managed three successful quarry blasts.

In search of a job that involved being outdoors, Charlene says BAM Ritchies ticked all the boxes: “I work at various sites all over Scotland, so the backdrop to my workplace is the Highlands and Grampians, one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. Who could ask for more?

“Prior to my current job I worked as an assistant geotechnical engineer with Jacobs on secondment to BEAR Scotland’s NW Trunk Road Geotechnical Department. My role was primarily monitoring landslide prone areas and supporting engineers with design, tender and supervision of mitigation works.

“I really didn’t enjoy being deskbound and was looking for a more practical role that involved being out and about in the great outdoors. That led to various conversations, one of which was about a vacancy a friend had seen. I looked into it and went along to an ‘insight day’. I loved what I saw so applied and here I am!”

“My current role is Shotfirer and Surveyor. I’ve been in this role since joining BAM Nuttall three years ago, starting out as a trainee.”

Charlene fires blasts primarily for aggregates but also for ornamental stone, the latter needing a different amount of explosives and a change in the charge sequence. To date, the largest amount of aggregate she has brought down in a single blast is 80,000 tonnes.

“Each day involves quite an early start to travel to site (wherever that may be) for 7am. I have a work vehicle and travel from home.”

All employees in Bam Ritchies are encouraged to join the Institute of Quarrying. Charlene says: “I have learned to keep track of and increase my Continuing Professional Development and am therefore actively seeking opportunities to learn. Many articles in Quarry Management magazine have proven helpful, as well as interesting, and although monthly technical meets are generally too far for me to attend, the information/presentations are passed on for me to learn from also.

“Learning on the job is key to progression. Since starting I’ve completed a MPQC Award in Shotfiring, along with relevant National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs). BAM Ritchies invest in ongoing personal development, which means new doors are always opening. It’s just a case of which ones you want to open to progress your career.”