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Bill Davies is studying Rural Enterprise and Land Management at Harper Adams University. After finishing a one-year utilities and infrastructure placement at Fisher German’s Ashby office, he reflects on his time with the firm.

Coming from a rural background in South Wales I was a bit apprehensive about accepting a placement in utilities, but I’m so glad I did as my opinions about the sector have been completely changed.

When studying utilities at university it seemed very dry and process driven, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Every day has been different and has involved a lot of problem solving and working with people, something which I really enjoy. It’s also very fast paced which keeps it interesting. Although you’re working on behalf of the client, you also work to build relationships with landowners and look for positive solutions which are best for both parties. Having a farming background meant that I was able to relate to the landowners and use my own personal experiences to help develop these relationships.

I’ve had a really varied placement and have worked in various areas of utilities, covering electricity, fibre, oil and gas, which has been really good to help develop my knowledge and experience. It has also given me the opportunity to travel on occasions and see different parts of the country which has been fantastic.

I’ve recently been working on a Western Power Distribution project in Derbyshire which has involved dismantling a section of overhead lines and towers which are being diverted underground. It’s been a very rewarding project as it’s going to have a really positive impact on the farmers and landowners. It’s also the first project which I’ve been given responsibility to lead on. I’ve spent a lot of time meeting landowners to agree access, talk them through the works and reassure them about the processes involved. It’s provided me with a great opportunity to get out of the office and have face to face conversations. I’ve also spent time in the office working on arranging access with contractors, landowners and land agents.

Everyone in the infrastructure services team at Fisher German is really friendly and they are always willing to offer their support. They’ve been more than happy to talk me through projects – even those I’ve not been involved in – to help broaden my knowledge further. Knowledge sharing is a big part of the business, and everyone at all levels is encouraged to do this through online and in-person CPD events and sharing internal news and successes.
I was given a level of responsibility right from the start of my placement which has been pivotal in my development, but at the same time I wasn’t expected to know everything and was encouraged to ask for guidance when needed. My supervisor, Lucy Whitaker, has been supportive throughout, and has always been there to answer any questions.

Being a multi-disciplinary firm means that Fisher German has also enabled me to gain experience in other sectors for the benefit of my APC which has been great. I’ve really been encouraged to make the most of the opportunity and learn as much as possible, and no matter what department you go to everyone wants to help those early in their careers to develop and progress.

My whole year with Fisher German has been fantastic – I can’t praise the firm enough. Twelve months ago I wasn’t considering a career in utilities, but now it’s something I really enjoy and will certainly look to pursue in the future. I’ve even been offered a graduate position with the firm which is excellent recognition of the work I’ve done.