Trainee site manager talks us through the new build

It feels fantastic to be able to say we will be opening the doors to our new Kilmarnock campus building THIS YEAR!

2016 has come around quickly and when September hits, thousands of students will descend on a brand new campus at Hill Street with amazing state-of-the-art facilities.

It’s an exciting time for everyone involved in the project. No more so for Rachel Kyle, who, after studying Construction at Ayrshire College, landed her first job with McLaughlin & Harvey as a trainee site manager on the new college campus.

We took you through a day in the life of Rachel not long after she began the role, and just over one year on we’ve caught up with Rachel again to find out: how the build is going as it enters its final stages, how she’s grown in the role, and what’s next for her at McLaughlin & Harvey.


Rachel with then-First Minister Alex Salmond at the beginning of the build

“I’ve been on site as a trainee site manager for more than 18 months now, so as you can imagine over that time I’ve gained a lot of experience. My role involves looking after the day-to-day organisation of the sub-contractors, health and safety of the site, community engagement, making programmes, organising deliveries, materials. Anything to do with the site, you name it, I’m doing it.

“We have challenges every day. Nothing that we can’t get over though. People come to me with problems and sometimes they think it’s the end of the world, but the main thing is to look positively to find a solution.

“I think it takes a certain type of person to do any sort of management role.


“I think you need to be good with people, you have to be able to speak with people at different levels, at different times, and understand that they might be under different pressures to someone else.

“If they are not performing then it’s your job to be able to recognise that and say “this can’t go on this way, this needs to happen”. I think if you’re fair with people then there’s no limit to what you can achieve.

“Construction has always been in my family. My Dad was a construction manager years ago and I’ve worked in the building materials industry from the age of 18.

“I left that job to go back to college, and since then I’ve got the job with McLaughlin & Harvey and I’m now in third year at university.


“I started my HNC Construction at the Kilwinning campus two and a half years ago. We went down to Nethermains for the likes of surveying, but there was a lot of time spent in the classroom.

“It was theoretical knowledge, drawing, CAD, things like that. At the end of that we had a final graded unit which was to design, cost and procure a single storey extension, which I felt I gave away part of my life doing! But I got there in the end and I got an A. A few days after that I got the job with McLaughlin & Harvey, so it was all moving pretty fast.

“They’re a great company to work for. I’ve had great mentors and you’re always supported no matter what you do. You’re encouraged to make your own calls. In this sort of job you’ve got to be able to do that – there’s not always going to be someone there to hold your hand. It’s quite good that you’re able to grow and develop yourself.

“It’s great to be working on the College build. It’s a fantastic first job for me and it’s nice that I’m back where I started my career in construction management.

“We’re right on schedule for where we need to be.


“My step-daughter goes to the Kilmarnock campus so I know what it’s like now. The new build is a fantastic space. It’s brighter, lighter, more modern and there will be real life situations like the working kitchen and the working salon. There’ll also be a fantastic STEM block.

“I think a lot of the things we’re bringing in here are very exciting. There’s lots of new equipment coming so it’s going to improve the learning environment overall.

“I haven’t been told what I’ll be working on next. This job is due to finish in May, so I’ll be here up until then, maybe a bit past it to make sure everything’s snagged. Then I’ll get told where I’m going next.

“I’ll officially finish being a trainee once I’ve completed my degree, which will be another year and a half.

“I’m studying at Glasgow Caledonian University. I’m doing it on a part-time day release basis, which is one day a week for 10/11 week blocks twice a year, so really I’m only out 20 days a year.

“I was already due to start the degree before I got offered a job. So the plan was to go there full-time. However, McLaughlin & Harvey were happy for me to continue and finish the degree by accommodating the day release.”

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