Crossrail buyer shares career advice with schoolchildren

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
15 July 2013

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A key member of the procurement team at the Crossrail project has been going into schools to teach youngsters about his role.

Paul Darlington, procurement production manager for Europe’s biggest construction scheme, has visited three schools in Newham, London as part of Crossrail’s corporate social responsibility agenda.


During two visits – to Rokeby School and Eastlea Community School – he discussed his work signing off procurement spend on the £16 billion project.


“Usually they’re quite fascinated,” Darlington told SM. “I always say procurement is a posh word for buying. We all do it every day. It’s just understanding what it is and when you get to the big stuff, it gets a bit more complicated.


“I tell them: ‘If you’re interested in any field in the world there will be procurement behind it’.”


In his latest visit to Cumberland School in Plaistow last week, Darlington was part of a team of professionals from various firms who conducted mock interviews with 193 students.


“Each child was given general questions, a half-hour interview and feedback,” he said. “It’s mainly focused around 14- and 15-year-olds and getting them prepared for the big world of interviews and CVs.


“At the end of the day, you hope to give something back to the kids. I said to them: ‘I wish I’d had that when I was at school’.”


Darlington has been with Crossrail for two years, but also worked on procurement for the Olympics.


“We do an awful lot of procurement,” he said. “It’s about making sure what goes out the door at the end of the day is reasonable.”


Darlington described how, as part of its social commitment agenda, contractor Vinci construction arranged to clean the windows of homes near construction sites. “At Christmas on one site a contractor gave £80 of vouchers to each of the residents to say thank-you for putting up with us,” he said.

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