From Royal Navy Officer to Construction Project Manager

25 September 2019 | College News, Construction & the Building Trades

Lee Fallows, 33, recently completed a Higher National Certificate (HNC) in Construction Management at City College Plymouth and has begun his new career as a Construction Project Manager at Faithful+Gould’s Exeter Office.

Lee says: “I joined City College as part of my resettlement from the Royal Navy, where I had already completed ten years’ service. I chose to study part-time alongside my final two years as a Royal Navy Officer; this greatly assisted my transition into the construction industry.”

Having decided to undertake a career change, Lee was keen to build upon the project management skills he had already gained during his time with the Royal Navy. He says: “In order to make the change, I felt I needed an industry-specific higher education qualification, so the HNC Construction Management programme at City College seemed like the perfect training route for me.”

Lee says: “I enjoyed all the HNC modules and found the focus on sustainable aspects of construction particularly interesting. I was really keen to learn about construction contracts – an area that I expect to be involved with in my new career – as well as design and IT, specifically CAD / REVIT / BIM.” Lee also enjoyed being able to draw on his own experience as a manager, for example on the construction management module, where he was able to share his prior knowledge and experience with his peers.

Lee adds: “My lecturers were very supportive even outside of timetabled contact time. They were also supportive of my need to attend college on an intermittent basis should the need arise; in the end, I was luckily able to fit in the majority of my lectures around my work commitments.”

Returning to education as a mature student was made possible for Lee by financial support from his employer and a flexible shift-work pattern. Lee says: “The Armed Forces support education outside of work in the form of Enhanced Learning Credits, and I made good use of this funding to minimise costs to myself and my family.”

Reflecting on his experience at City College and looking to the future, Lee says: “Without having attained a higher education qualification, I would not have been able to successfully transition into a new sector. Leaving the Royal Navy this year, I will begin my new role with a construction consultancy in Exeter. I also plan to continue my studies with a BSc in Construction Management, followed by RICS accreditation thereafter.”

Lee would encourage those thinking about a career change to consider the options available at City College. He says: “Take higher education seriously; it’s important to schedule in time for independent study, including evenings and weekends, as you’ll do the vast majority of studying outside of contact time. Also ensure that your family understands and supports your commitment to higher education.” Lee adds: “Get to know your chosen IT applications and use them to your advantage – they are there to assist you in delivering your assignments, from creating your own stylistic templates to referencing tools.”

If you are interested in a career in the construction industry, explore the range of courses and Apprenticeships that City College Plymouth has on offer by calling 01752 305300 or visiting

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