Martyn Dixon is a site manager working for Kier Regional Building on phase 2 of Bartholomew School in Eynsham, Oxfordshire. Here, he talks about how he discovered Kier and how, against the odds, construction provided him with the stability he needed to launch a successful career.
“Finding construction changed my life. I never enjoyed school and was an awful student. Kier was very engaged with my secondary school and came in regularly to talk about opportunities in the interview, host mock interviews and offer work experience. The idea of having a job that meant I didn’t need to sit at my desk all day really interested me and so, I got in touch with Kier to do my work experience placement in year 10.
When I was finding my personal life difficult, I got worse at school. In my final year, I was given the opportunity to do extended work experience at Kier where I worked on site one day a week. It was great to keep me engaged with my studies and during this period, I worked with a lot of different people including contract managers, site managers and surveyors; getting all sorts of experience in different roles in construction.
When I left school, I went into carpentry, learning a trade. After this, I worked as a gateman and labourer for Kier before starting the team leader apprenticeship. For the first time, I moved away from home in Cheltenham and stayed in Bircham Newton, a village in Norfolk, to undertake block weeks at college.
If anyone had told me when I was at school that I would go from being a labourer, to doing an apprenticeship and an apprenticeship degree, to becoming a site manager at 26, I’d have laughed at them. I am so proud of how far I’ve come, there aren’t many people who have reached this level and managed the range of projects that I have at my age; Kier has given me some great experiences and opportunities.
Whilst being at Kier, I have been keen to give back to the communities we work in. During my time at Coney Hill Primary School I wanted to work with them to raise money and did this through making go-karts for the pupils. I found a go-kart flat pack idea online and cut timber into an IKEA-style kit and, with the children helping, we built three go-karts and then they took them and decorated them. We built a track in the school grounds and raced the go-karts before selling them at a school auction to find the pupils’ next project, involving upcycling items they’d found at a car boot sale. This project helped spark the pupil’s passion for building and engineering.
I built a great relationship with Coney Hill Primary School during this time. They held a big assembly for us, and it was really humbling for them to go out of their way to thank us for all the work we’ve done. It feels really good to know that we left a positive legacy at the school.
I want to offer others the same opportunities I was given; when I was doing the extended work experience at school, I said to our general works contracts manager Jeff Bye that I would never be able to repay him for everything he’d done for me and all the time he’d invested. He then said to me, of course you can, you can inspire and help others as we’ve done for you nd I feel so grateful that I’m able to do this now. I go to a lot of assemblies and careers events, talking to people who might not be getting on well at school and showing them that there are opportunities to get on and have a carer they will enjoy. Every Thursday, I have a session with pupils in year 8 and 9 doing construction-related activities; it’s amazing to see how they grow in confidence and get more interested as the weeks go by.
I will never be able to say it enough, but every day I thank Kier and the people working here for the opportunities I’ve had. I feel so lucky to be in the position I’m in and to have been given the opportunities I have, and I realise my life could have gone a very different way had it not been for finding a career in construction.”