Cliff Francis

Cliff Francis


Country United Kingdom

Specialisms Construction, project management,water

Career highlights

How I became a civil engineer

Following very average grades at sixth form, I took a couple of years out, did some volunteering and figured out what I wanted to do. I then did a foundation year at Plymouth University to get access to the Civil Engineering Degree.

Following this I completed by BEng degree and enrolled in a graduate programme at Balfour Beatty, before then moving on to NMCN. The key to my progression was gaining valuable experience on summer placements for various companies whilst I was at university.

I am now a Project Manager for nmcn PLC, delivering projects for the Water Industry in the South West.

A typical day in your life...

I’m up between 5.30 and 6.00am, often on site by 7.20am. After a 10-15 minute catch up with my team, I often spend the morning in various meetings planning for upcoming work with our clients, designers or work winning teams.

I also spend a lot of time focusing on construction delivery. I get to manage complex engineering on site, oversee very specialist contractors and give what knowledge and experience I can to the great team I work with. 

My role has given me opportunity to work all over the South West, delivering a variety of interesting projects. 

I would recommend a career in civil engineering because …

The industry has a place for everyone, with a huge diversity of roles. I get to spend my time solving very technical engineering problems.

But I also get to play a key role in work winning, commercial management, relationship development and strategic planning. Our industry could really benefit from people who think different to your “typical” engineer.

If you have an interest in local or national politics, business management, 'big data' digital modelling or in fact almost anything, engineering could do with this expertise.


Our industry could really benefit from people who think different to your 'typical' engineer.

Cliff Francis


What’s the biggest/most complex thing you’ve made out of Lego? How long did it take you?

You’d think that as an engineer I would be all over Lego, but in all honesty my 4 year old son is already showing me up.

Which individual project or person inspired you to become a civil engineer?

I volunteered for 2 years in a full-time outreach project. I worked very closely with a civil engineer that I really looked up to during that time. Stories about his career really inspired me.

Complete this phrase: I’m a civil engineer, but I’m also …

I’m a civil engineer, but I’m also really into adventure sports.

What about being a civil engineer gets you out of bed each morning?

My alarm! But also the fact that construction is essentially a chance to play with really big toys and build amazing things.

What’s one great thing that you love about civil engineering that you didn’t know until you started working in the industry?

You do so much more than just maths and physics!

Which civil engineering project (past or present) do you wish you’d worked on?

High Speed Two looks incredibly challenging, from almost every front.

Name one civil engineering myth you’d like to bust?

That engineering is just a technical job, when in reality you could be developing digital models, managing “big data”, developing business relationships, improving the environment or any of a hundred different things.

Anything else? i.e. personal causes, hobbies?

I enjoy adventure sports such as surfing, rock climbing and mountain biking. I also enjoy reading and often listen to audio books whilst travelling to and from work.

I want to become a civil engineer.

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