Ben Blackwood grew up near Dumfries in Scotland. He studied engineering at Loughborough University and moved to London in 2006. He joined Embassy Gardens in 2014 and is now Design Director at Embassy Gardens. He lives in Hertfordshire.
What attracted you to engineering?
I had always been interested in making things and after I left school I went to work for the MoD who then sponsored me through University. Each summer I was sent to various MoD bases. The first time I went, I had to write the documentation for how to take a Challenger 2 tank apart and then put it back together again. Then I had a job designing armoured welfare facilities, mainly for use in Iraq.
Was this good training working for Ballymore?
I left the MoD because I realised I could make more money as a contractor. I became part of a company manufacturing off-site offices, washrooms and unique off-site projects- all made in Scotland. I joined Ballymore because of Aaron Caffrey (Ballymore’s Technical Director). He interviewed me. He’s a very inspirational person because he has an overarching understanding yet gets into the detail of how everything works.
Your role at Embassy Gardens was quite a change of direction from your previous jobs. How did you cope?
I loved my new job! It fitted me perfectly. After being responsible for the running of a company, I was suddenly free without having to think about the company IT contract or the BT bill.
Describe a typical day
I get here around 7.45am and I don’t usually leave before 7pm- they’re long days- but I wouldn’t have it any other way because I want to go home satisfied that I’ve done the best I can. I also spend most of my time on my feet talking to people in the team. There’s a lot of bravado in construction and you have to cater for the varied personalities. It’s important to make sure everyone has their input heard to maintain their enthusiasm.
How did your role change after Skypool came along?
Once the concept was sorted, my role was to make sure that all the relevant questions are being asked and that our professional teams of specialist designers, engineers, architects, consultants and specialist manufacturers are addressing each unknown in turn to ensure that we delivery exactly what the concept shows.
We’re all expecting to see Skypool look exactly like the first images. Is that likely?
It’s fair to say this has always been the challenge and items that have proved to be the most complex are the things you wouldn’t expect, like the lighting. The image shows the pool fully lit and it’s taken some time to work out how to do that but we’ve found a solution. We are confident that it will be as spectacular in real life.
What keeps you awake at night?
Everything can be solved. Occasionally there’s a detail I’m not happy with and it can be in the middle of the night you have your Eureka moment
How do you relax?
Cycling. The guys here got me into it and we did the Ring of Kerry last year. But I’m a fair weather cyclist and I like to head off on my bike on a Sunday afternoon and then find a pub. We’re looking for another big cycle so we can raise money for charity this summer.
What single piece of advice would you give your 20-year old self?
Don’t try and conquer the world on your own – make use of the tools and expertise available.