Q&A with Adam Latimer

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Full Name: Jonathan Adam Latimer

Job Title: Operations Director

Company: Ian Farmer Associates (1998) Limited

Adam is an Operations Director with over 25 years of professional experience working in the ground investigation sector. Adam has worked on a wide variety of investigations, including land development, contaminated land, infrastructure (both road and rail) and utilities projects. Adam holds an undergraduate degree in Geology and holds a vocational qualification in NEBOSH National Certificate in Construction Health and Safety. Adam is also a Freeman of the City of London and is a committee member for both the AGS and BGA.

What or who inspired you to join the geotechnical industry?

There isn’t any one person who inspired me to join the industry, however I have always had a keen interest in Geology from a young age, growing up in the North Pennines with its rich Geology and Mining History. When I left Durham University in 1993, I had already rejected the opportunities of working in the mining and exploration sector (working in politically unstable parts of the world wasn’t really an appealing prospect). I studied a traditional Geology degree and the Geotechnical Industry wasn’t an industry I as was particularly familiar with or aware of. Many undergraduates from Durham would ultimately become involved in the oil and gas sector, law or accountancy. On leaving University I cast a wide net, applying to a wide variety of businesses so I suppose I stumbled into the industry partly by accident.

What does a typical day entail?

I don’t have a typical day and as such it can be quite varied. Like everyone else involved in this industry, the days can be long. As I have progressed up the managerial ladder my role has become more of a support function for the business. With multiple offices and the business now being part of the RSK Group, I have found my time split between all sections of the company. Typically, I will spend most of my time in business development, forecasting, budgeting, estimating, training, auditing and reviewing and developing new documentation. Sadly, my time visiting sites and undertaking reporting and technical reviews has reduced with more managerial duties being the norm.

Are there any projects which you’re particularly proud to have been a part of?

I have been involved in a number of large scale and challenging ground investigations during my time in the industry and I can’t really focus on any one project over another. I am very passionate about the ground investigation industry and the most rewarding part of my job is helping to inspire the next generation of ground engineers, whether this is through the work within the AGS and BGA or through mentoring and training within Ian Farmer Associates.

What are the most challenging aspects of your role?

My role within the business has developed over the past few years and has become more focussed on the business development side and as such a huge challenge is adapting to volatile market conditions. Our industry suffers historically from significant peaks and troughs and you need to react quickly during buoyant times and when there is a downturn. The industry as a whole has also suffered from an acute shortage of experienced engineers and this coupled with a reduction in graduates entering the industry has put enormous pressures on existing staff to meet ever demanding timescales.

What AGS Working Group(s) are you a Member of and what are your current focuses?

I am currently the lead for the Safety Working Group and a member of the Executive Committee. Currently we are working on delivering the inaugural safety conference (Safety in Mind) on the 21st November at the National Motorcycle Museum. We have secured an excellent line up of speakers and some thought-provoking presentations which I am sure will make it a success. As a group we are continuing to gather feedback from our members on trial pitting and whether it remains a safe and effective method in a changing geotechnical world. We are also at the early stages of a working group on avoidance of buried services with collaboration with the BDA and FPS.

What do you enjoy most about being an AGS Member?

The AGS provides a unique opportunity for like-minded people to discuss issues within the industry in an honest and frank way. The AGS membership is an essential vehicle to share good practices in an open forum for the greater good of the industry.

What do you find beneficial about being an AGS Member?

Being a member of the AGS provides members with an unrivalled opportunity to have a voice in how the Geotechnical Industry should operate. Fantastic work has been done by the members of the AGS to shape the future of the industry and that is credit to the diligence and tireless work of all the professionals we are fortunate to have working in the sector. There is a wealth of publications, position papers and articles which provides invaluable information and all this is available for the benefit of the members on the website or through the conferences held annually.  

Why do you feel the AGS is important to the industry?

The AGS offers a unique opportunity for like-minded professionals who are passionate about the industry to work collaboratively for a common goal to improve the image of the Geotechnical sector. The AGS is the only trade association which includes a mixture of contractors, consultants and clients which offers a wealth of knowledge and experience to help shape a strong and stable future and only with us working together can we make a tangible difference.

What changes would you like to see implemented in the geotechnical industry?

The Geotechnical Industry has seen significant strides in technology and health and safety since I joined in the mid-90s. There is of course lots of work to do and as an industry we can’t stand-still and need to continue to evolve. The recent survey between the AGS and BDA on the state of the industry offered some food for thought for all of us working in ground investigation and although the results may not have been a big shock, there is still much work to do in order to improve the image of the industry, not just within our membership but also throughout the wider construction sector.