Enterprise Advisers

Mark Johnson

Why did you become an Enterprise Adviser?

“It is a hugely rewarding experience watching young people grow, gain confidence, and achieve their ambitions and aims. It’s the chance to give something back, support a school in providing a different perspective in advice and direction. Hopefully the experience of my own career shows you can achieve at all stages of your life.”

Tell us about your chosen career or career pathway to your current role

“I did OK(ish) at school which enabled me to start my career in the shipyard in 1988 in Barrow as an electrical apprentice. At 16 I really didn’t have an eye on a career, and it took a while for me to really get going. On completion of my apprenticeship, I was made redundant, as many of us were at the time, due to a downturn in work in the organisation. This was a wake-up call, and I moved around a little bit in my early 20’s on short term contracts mainly on construction projects in the region. I began to feel that being an electrician really wasn’t for me long term and was lucky to have a role on the commissioning team on the North Morecambe Gas terminal for 2 years – it was here I began to form an interest in control systems and felt it was something to progress – unqualified however, and restricted in my ambition I decided, at 24, to put myself through University. For 3 tough years (I am not academically bright, but I work hard) I attended the University Of Salford and gained an Honours Degree in Communication Technology.  The week I graduated I had a call from an agency asking if I would be interested in a 6-month contract developing a simulator for a new plant at Sellafield. I was 27, didn’t have two pennies to rub together, and jumped at the chance – it was 1998.

“I spent 11 years in total at Sellafield, initially on software development and support and moving into a systems engineer role responsible for developing software in specific areas of the plant. As the plant moved onto commissioning and then to production, I found an opportunity to lead a team of multi-disciplined engineers in supporting this transition. I look back fondly on this time and its one of the highlights of my career, my first real leadership role and with a fantastic team all of which I still have connections with today. Towards the end of this period I was asked to lead plant improvement initiatives, and thus began my personal transition into the world of Project Management. To support this, I have undertaken learning and development through a professional body (The Association of Project Management) and throughout my career have continued to learn and continuously improve my knowledge and experience. I am now a Chartered Project Professional through the APM. I moved on to a different area of the business and was responsible for delivering projects during outages and plant downtime which was hugely fast paced and a steep learning process but fantastic as I reflect back. This period really shaped my career and to date, I have been in project and programme management, in some form, ever since.

“In 2009, after 11 great years I had the chance to return to my roots – the shipyard in Barrow for BAE Systems. A long way from where I started, I continued working as a Project Manager developing into a senior role and becoming Head of Site Major Projects in late 2017. During my time with BAE I have had the privilege of completing an MBA through Lancaster University and was selected to participate in a Global Leadership Development Programme which was amazing. The organisation is brilliant for developing people and supporting careers and I am eternally grateful for that.

“And now I find myself in a new role as Managing Director for H&H Land and Estates- learning again and developing even more – You never do (and shouldn’t) stop learning!”

What careers advice would you give to your 16-year-old self?

“Take your time, you’re allowed to try different things, make mistakes and learn from them. The future is what you want it to be and the opportunities you can’t perhaps see now will emerge as you grow and learn. There are many ways to have a career from the traditional school, college and University route but also by finding your way and letting your experiences shape the things you want to do. Opportunities will present themselves when you may not expect them!

“Be bold, ambitious, and courteous and, above all else, be happy and find something you enjoy!”

What do you like/love best about living and working in Cumbria?

“Cumbria provides me with everything I love and enjoy, a broad and challenging career coupled with the natural landscape and my love for the outdoors – whether it be bagging Wainwrights (on my second round) or exploring the wider county and all its attractions. The people are warm and friendly, and the opportunities are there for all to see. There is a considerable breadth of career paths across all sectors and maybe surprisingly, Cumbria’s most productive sector is in Manufacturing.”

Contact Details

Name:Mark Johnson
Job Title:Managing Director
Organisation:H&H Land & Estates
Sector:Economic Development
Contact Email:mark.johnson@hhlandestates.co.uk
Key Skills:Project management, strategic thinker & planner, problem solver, strong presenter

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