Meet Jack Myall

This week, Geotechnical Engineer Jack Myall faces down the slightly intimidating dazzle of the staff spotlight with aplomb. And he reveals how his role is about to become even more interesting.

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Who are you like that then?

I’m Jack, and I’ve been a Geotechnical Engineer with Igne, (formerly AEG), for just over 7 years.  And I am about to become Igne’s new Contracts Manager for the northwest region. 

What has your job entailed to date – and how is it going to change? 

My role to date has included the logging of soil and rock across most of the UK.

I have supervised and managed a wide variety of sites for the company since I started – ranging from just a few hand-dug pits to multi-rig, multi-engineer projects which have run over many weeks.

No matter the variety of in-situ testing, I’ve always been focused on overcoming technical challenges, such as access and site challenges, whilst maintaining ongoing liaison with our clients to ensure their project goals are fully met.

I very recently became a dad and whilst I love my current role it's the perfect time for a change.  Having been very hands on as an engineer for the past 7yrs I hope to continue this approach to contracts management.  Meaning my time spent on site either as part of the tender process or with clients during the works can draw on my site knowledge.

Who inspired you to pursue the career you have today? 

It was my partner, Jennifer; my masters was in geology and hers was in engineering geology which led her to become an engineering geologist.  As I came to understand what a fascinating role she had, I realised I wanted to work in the same industry. 

However, because I knew I wanted to be more site based, I became a geotechnical engineer.

What advice can you give someone who wants to follow in your career footsteps? 

It’s simple: GET STUCK IN!  

On site life is so much better if you muck in and help everyone.  And it’s a great way to develop more as a team if people know you’re willing to pitch in and help.

This hands-on attitude has allowed me to gain a greater understanding of how all the rigs we use function, and how to overcome any potential difficulties certain drilling operations could encounter on site.

The more you get stuck in, the more experience you gain, and the more valuable you are in your role – and in turn, the more enjoyable the job becomes and the more value you can add for each client. 

What’s a particularly tough professional challenge you’ve overcome? 

Every site presents a different set of challenges that can be tough to overcome - whether this is because of access restrictions, poor ground conditions, difficulty drilling, the weather or really badly timed breakdowns.

Any and all of these can be tough to deal with at the time.  But by drawing on the vast experiences of all the other site team members and coming up with solutions on the ground, most end up being fairly easily solved or resolved.

What about a career highlight?

I was lucky enough to represent Igne, (well, it was AEG at the time), at the Ground Engineering Awards for a project we did with United Utilities (UU).

We used a helicopter to mobilise a cable percussion rig onto a scaffold platform on a remote reservoir embankment – it was a technical triumph!

A lot of hard work and planning went into it, particularly by my colleague Dan Susnik, and it meant the job, which initially looked almost impossible, was incredibly successful. 

UU entered it for consideration for a Ground Engineering Award in 2023.  Together with a member of the UU engineering team, I presented the entry to the judges, and whilst we didn't win, it was great to be part of such a unique overall experience – from project delivery to awards assessment.

What continues to motivate you?

Having a job you have a genuine interest in - and then getting to do that job outside, in all weathers, all over the country is not something I thought even existed, never mind one I would get paid for doing. 

So, the fact that I really enjoy what I do - and who I work with and who I work for - means I maintain my motivation.

And almost ironically, I derive a great deal of satisfaction from snatching successes from the jaws of disaster!  I thoroughly enjoy completing those jobs where it has felt like everything was going wrong.  The type of job where a farmer won’t let you into his field, or everything breaks on the same day, or the client changes the scope and you’re initially not sure how to achieve their goals with what you have available on site…

But then - after a few days or weeks of hard work and collaboration, brainstorming and graft, the job is done, the client is at least quietly satisfied, (if not delighted!), and it’s on to the next one.

I thoroughly enjoy everything that goes into the job.

How have you grown professionally in your time at Igne?

Through daily, weekly, monthly hands-on experience.  Every new site gives you something to learn and therefore you organically grow professionally.

Early on this might have been as simple as seeing a new rig in action and more recently this has been taking on more opportunities for project managing and client relations.  

Now, with my role about to change, I will advance by becoming more involved int the contractual side of operations, including site visits, tenders and client liaison.

What does the future hold for Igne?

I think the future for Igne is very positive.  By bringing together a range of very experienced companies as one entity that can now do more together than they could have individually – the opportunities are vast.

For our site-based ground investigation teams for example, this means they have better access to a wider variety of resources and experience.  And for our clients, it means they have a wider range of services to choose and benefit from, all delivered by one central, excellent team.

The changes and the growth are very exciting to be a part of.

Finally, tell us something about you that most people don’t know.

When I'm not at work one of my main hobbies is … … … geology!  Family trips to famous geological sites or fossil hunting on beaches are some of my favourite ways to spend a weekend.

Well, that makes sense really!  Thank you for exposing yourself to the staff spotlight!  And the final word goes to Jack's line manager, Igne's NW Development Manager Dan Susnik:

We interviewed Jack in early 2017 and (even though his phone rang during the interview!) he stood out as the strongest candidate for the role.  As Jack has mentioned, a field-based Geotechnical Engineer can face many challenges, not least the Great British weather, and being able to overcome those challenges and meet the expectations of our clients is a responsibility that he has taken in his stride.

During his time with AEG/Igne, Jack has been exposed to many types of drilling and in-situ testing techniques, in almost every part of the UK.  He's now going to take that experience and put it to good use in his new role as NW Contract's Manager where I'm sure he'll continue to use his problem-solving abilities to serve our clients.

AEG, in its previous form, and now Igne has always been an organisation who promote from within - hard work has always been rewarded.  I was in Jacks position 10 years ago and I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have been given opportunities to develop and push myself in more senior roles.  Seeing Jack now be given those same opportunities is very rewarding.