After celebrating his 14th anniversary at Howard Civil Engineering in April, Steve Dakin was recently promoted to Contracts Manager – a testament to his dedication to the construction field. To recognise these significant milestones, we spoke to Steve to discuss his career journey, the experiences that shaped his path, the challenges he has overcome, and more…

Firstly, could you walk us through your career in the construction industry; where did you begin, and how did you get involved with HCE?

I first started working in the construction industry at the age of 19. I had just completed an engineering course at a local college that gave me exposure to electrical, mechanical, and civil engineering – when I completed the course, I was sure that I wanted to go down the civil engineering route, so a family member who was a machine operator/groundworker offered me a position as a labourer.

Your journey from Labourer to Contracts Manager is undoubtedly impressive – could you give us some insight into your 14-year career at HCE?

I first joined HCE when the team I was with was offered work at York University. Before starting with HCE, I had previously worked for much smaller companies, so I was immediately impressed with the structure and ethos that HCE possessed. From there, our team progressed within the company, visiting various projects along the way until we were offered work elsewhere by another company. While my team made the decision to move on. I decided to stay with HCE.

In 2015, I was asked If I would like to become a site supervisor, and after some deliberation, I decided to take the plunge. Over the next few years, I was progressively given training, support, and guidance by the wider HCE management team. This allowed me to move into site management, project management, and contract management in a relatively short amount of time. 

What is it about your job that you’re most passionate about?

I’m passionate about helping our younger colleagues achieve their goals by assisting them as much as possible in learning their trade. If it wasn’t for the help and assistance I was offered during my career, there would be no way I could have progressed to the position I now hold. It’s really rewarding to do the same for others; seeing them apply the knowledge that you have helped them develop, and watching them progress and improve in their own career paths.

What kind of challenges have you faced throughout your career, and how have you overcome these?

I think all the progress you make comes with its own specific challenges and responsibilities. But if you commit yourself to what you are doing, and you have a real drive and determination to learn and improve, you will undoubtedly do well. I have also never been afraid to ask questions; if you don’t ask the questions, you will never get the answers.

How do you think the overall industry has changed since you began? Do you think things have progressed in the right direction?

The industry has improved massively during my career. The fact that we are now utilising systems such as Field View, My Training Passport, as well as HAVS watches as part of our day-to-day routine, are all huge steps in the right direction. I’m also proud of the fact that, as a company, we are driven to seek out the latest innovations and improvements, in addition to putting so much consideration into social values and environmental sustainability. 

Is there any advice you’d give to those looking for a career in this industry?

The construction industry is an extremely interesting and rewarding sector to work in – one that is full of knowledgeable people. Listen as much as you can, ask as many questions as you can, and push yourself to do the very best you can with every task you are given. If you have the right attitude, self-motivation, and a willingness to learn, there is no end to how far you could progress.

A huge thanks to Steve for taking the time to answer these questions for us – this kind of insight is invaluable, and we take great pride in being able to share it. If you’re interested in a career here at Howard’s, be sure to visit our careers page today by clicking here.

June 5th marks World Environment Day, a worldwide event that recognises the crucial role of preserving our natural world. This year’s theme focuses on land restoration, desertification, and drought resilience, championed by the UN under the hashtag #GenerationRestoration.

Tackling This Year’s Environmental Theme

At Howard Civil Engineering, we deeply value our environment, and continuously strive to work in the cleanest and most efficient manner possible. Our commitment extends beyond our projects; we eagerly support organisations dedicated to environmental preservation. One such partnership is with St Nicks, a remarkable group we teamed up with in April to bolster their restoration and preservation efforts.

St Nicks, based in York, manages a 24-acre nature reserve, open to the public year-round. Their Green Corridors initiative is particularly inspiring, as it aims to reconnect and restore green spaces across York, fostering thriving habitats for key species. This summer, we’ll be embarking on more work alongside St Nicks, so keep an eye out!

Our Broader Efforts

Our involvement with St Nicks is just one facet of our broader environmental initiatives for 2024. For instance, where possible we opt to use IBAA (Incinerator Bottom Ash aggregate) instead of primary aggregates. On one project alone we’ve saved over 44,000kg of CO2 (an impressive 6.47 kg/t), and we’re just getting started.

Since the start of the year, we’ve offset nearly 200,000 litres of fuel, equating to over 500 tonnes of CO2e. Our investment in solar panels at our head office in Leeds has also been immensely beneficial, saving the CO2 equivalent of planting 33 trees. Additionally, we utilise solar CCTV and ECO welfare wherever possible, and recycle 96% of our construction and excavation waste, significantly reducing landfill contributions.

A Commitment To Sustainability Education

Moreover, we’re committed to educating the next generation about sustainable practices, in particular advocating for a circular economy. This model emphasises sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing, and recycling materials and products for as long as possible. With the current environmental challenges our planet faces, imparting this foundational knowledge to school children is vital.

We invite you to join us this year in making a difference, whether through small actions like separating your recyclables, or larger efforts such as supporting local groups like St Nicks. Every contribution counts – it all adds up!

To learn more about St Nicks and the work they do, click here. For more about our ongoing sustainability efforts, click here.

Have a read of our Winter 2023/Spring 2024 newsletter, featuring…

✈ Our most recent works at LBA
🏥 An update on Scarborough Hospital & Gateway 36
🤝 News about our various equal opportunity endeavours
💰 Our donation of over £17,000 to the Candlelighters Trust
🎉 Celebrating our 21st anniversary


Have a read of our Autumn 2023 newsletter, featuring…

🏆 Taking Home The Outstanding Achievement Award
🚛 Big Upgrades To Our HGV Fleet
🎉 Celebrating 10,000 LinkedIn Followers
✅ Looking At One City Park Following It’s Completion
🏃‍♂️ Testing Our Mettle In 2023’s 15km Tough Mudder


Our Summer 2023 newsletter is out now!

✨ Take a look at our fresh new fleet
🏅 Becoming Sheffield Housing Company’s Subcontractor of the Quarter
🏗 A recap of our new, on-going, and recently completed projects
💪 From boat races and intense obstacle courses, to golf days and celebrity visits: take a look at how we’re making an difference
👷‍♂️ Looking for a career in construction? Have a read of some of the latest rolls available at Howard Civil Engineering


Have a read of our Spring 2023 newsletter…