Alistair Harris

Commercial Trainee

Currently studying

BSc (Hons) Commercial Management – one day per week. The university course helps with work and vice versa, so Wates fully supports my studies.

My role day to day

My work will depend on which stage of the job we have reached. In the early stages, I’ll be setting up suppliers and contractors, going to tender for bits of work, having meetings etc. Then, I’ll be measuring works and drawings, looking after payments of sub-contractors, contractual paperwork, resolving technical and managerial problems with internal and external professionals, financial reporting and general meetings.

I’ll spend about 30% of my time on site. I’ll try to get on site at least once a day a week to keep tabs on it. It’s great not to be stuck in the office all day, every day.

Recent projects

I’ve worked on a variety of commercial projects including a retirement home and a laboratory. It’s been very interesting as each project has presented new challenges and required different skills.

What I like about my job

I like the variety of the role, working on different sites, with different people. It’s great to work on something from start to finish, beginning with a blank canvas and ending with a complete building. The bonus is that no two days are likely to be the same. I’ll work on a new project at a new location every 18-24 months and get to work with lots of different people with different skills.

What attracted me to the Construction industry

I had an idea that I’d like to work with numbers and so I took on work experience with a quantity surveyor. After taking advice, I chose relevant A-levels and began speaking to a few people to learn more about the industry. The more I learnt, the more interested I became.

The opportunity to travel the UK and abroad, doing a variety of tasks, was also appealing.

My Top Tip

Most people think that construction involves only bricklaying and architecture but it’s important to understand the huge range or roles available within the industry. Use every opportunity available to gain experience, find out about different roles before making decisions about what most interests you. Build your knowledge by using the internet. Try to learn or gain a skill from everything you do and everyone you meet.

Alistair Harris

Educational background

  • GCSEs: Design Graphics, Geography, German, French, Science, Maths, English.
  • A-Levels: English Language, Geography, Economics.
  • HNC Construction
  • HND Construction


I need a head for finance and figures, an understanding of and interest in construction, management skills, presentation and communication skills in order to work well with both the client on a job and subcontractors. I’m always learning new skills, which is great.