10:14 29 Nov 2015



Jamie Scott

HMNB Clyde Facility Maintenance Periods

When I started at Faslane straight from the graduate scheme last September, my first thought was 'what have I let myself in for here?' The working environment is massive. It takes a bit of getting used to.

From a graduate's point of view, an FMP (Facility Maintenance Period) is a substantial project to work on. I've been able to explore the various technological aspects of the way different things are installed and maintained. It also helps you develop your project management and social skills in terms of dealing with stakeholders, planning meetings and reporting. I've certainly found that my communication skills have measurably improved.

One of the most noticeable ways in which I've developed is that I now have the confidence to report to senior management about what's happening on the Base. I used to be pretty scared of chairing meetings and taking notes, simple things like that.  But through high-profile projects like this, you naturally develop your communication skills, which in turn increases your influence over what happens.

With projects of this nature, you have to keep a lot of departments and stakeholders happy. So you need to make sure that the information you give people is accurate, and that work is kept on schedule. You can't just chop and change your plans, because these are busy people with lots of demands on their time. You don't want to come across as someone who is always hassling - you've got to recognise everyone's issues and let them get on with it. As you progress, you start developing your understanding of how people think and work, and what they need to hear from you. None of that is taught at university.

On that subject, one thing I had to quickly shake off was the graduate tag. You inevitably carry that around with you a bit to begin with - but getting involved in a big project like this, you soon start to gain a bit of authority. Since being here full-time, I've worked to establish a rapport at every level - people are now actually coming to me for guidance on issues. I think it helps that Babcock is supporting me through an MSc in maintenance management, which is probably the most relevant qualification you could have for planning large-scale maintenance packages.

I think that the key to running a Facility Maintenance Period (which, in the way we are organising it, is a new method for Clyde) is planning and organisation, combined with good people management. Your effectiveness depends on interacting with different people at all levels and creating relationships with everyone from the guys who man the cranes on the jetties, to all the contractors who carry out the work, to all the staff involved from other departments. It's my role to co-ordinate all these different teams to work productively together, sometimes with as little as 24 hours' notice.

The planning is part of the challenge of working here. You can lose your resources at a moment's notice if something of a higher priority turns up - which it can - right out of the blue. That can leave you in a bit of a predicament. And of course, a sudden spell of bad weather can hold up everything. In the end, though, resource allocation is driven by customer requirements. So we provide support as best we can.

Working on a project like this does give you a good taste of both the shop floor and the upper management environments. Every week, I'm involved in some pretty high-level meetings, which were a bit daunting at first but which I now have developed the confidence to chair. That's a good measure of the progress you can make - you quickly gain experience at so many different levels.

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