HCP Staff Interview – Amanda Donald
On Monday 3rd August I made my masked way from London to the Swindon Schools site office to speak to Amanda Donald, HCP General Manager, about her role and her life, as well as lots more, including HCP Consultancy‘s work on the project.
Amanda, thank you for agreeing to share an insight into your life with us.
Could you give us an overview of your career so far?
I graduated with a degree in Quantity Surveying and a Master’s in Construction and Facilities Management. My first job was as a Quantity Surveyor at HMS Warrior, which is MOD Northwood. I was there for a few years, working on the old measured terms contracts and the WSM.
After that I fell into Facilities Management, although I’d done a qualification, I hadn’t worked in it before. My first Facilities job was looking after Rail Track corporate offices. That involved a lot of travel around the country, visiting all the train stations, very exciting if you like trains.
And then I got into PFI in Bristol Schools, who we are about the take the MSA over for Building Schools for the Future. It will be nice to meet up with old colleagues and see how my buildings are doing.
I was there for about three years then decided to move closer to home, I live just outside Swindon, so I got the job here, looking after Swindon Schools.
What does your role as General Manager involve?
It’s a bit of everything. We have a very small team here in Swindon, me as GM, and Rebecca Hubbard who is our Operations Officer. We have HCP Consultancy helping us out as well, but for the day to day stuff, it’s Becky and myself. It’s ensuring contract compliance, making sure we’re up to date with legal requirements and insurances.
You mentioned having HCP Consultancy on your project, how have you found working with the team?
It’s been a real help, especially while Becky has been on maternity leave. They’ve got stuck in and taken a weight off my mind. They are managing Lifecycle totally, so I don’t need to get involved in that and they are looking at defects. It’s great having the extra technical knowledge.
What have been the major challenges for you at Swindon Schools during COVID19?
Keeping the staff and students safe. From lockdown we kept six of our seven schools open for key worker’s children, ensuring they had adequate social distancing and could get out, rather than being cooped up all day.
We worked with Pinnacle to ensure the measures were all in place and worked closely with the Authority to get waivers for certain things because there were some tasks which couldn’t be completed due to staff being furloughed, and lack of availability of supplies.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
I think it’s the differences day to day. You come in with a set plan of what you’re going to do; reports, monthly invoicing and such, but you never quite know if there’s going to be a student climbing onto the roof or a flood in the plant room, which happens more regularly than we’d like. It’s crisis management, you must react as soon as something happens.
I’ve seen that you’ve undertaken some lovely charity work as an individual, would you tell us about that?
I taught myself to knit last year, I’ve been knitting little blankets for memory boxes for stillborn babies. I also do them for Battersea Cats and Dogs Homes, just branched out into hats, which has been quite challenging as it involves changing stitching.
What else do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I never stop working. We have a small holding, so if I‘m not here working, I’m there. My superpower is that I can wrestle a Wiltshire Horn to the ground secure him and trim his hooves. We’ve got a tractor which I’m learning to drive. And I’m quite good with a shotgun, so don’t upset me.*
Sounds like you’ll be fine when the apocalypse hits. Can you tell us about your animals?
I used to breed Bengal cats. I’ve got seven that we show, and two moggies as well. We’ve got three Labradors; gun dogs I trained myself and goats, sheep, pigs and chickens.
Wow, no wonder you never stop working!
*Mandy emailed the day after the interview to clarify that she is a member of a shooting club and only takes her aggression out on clays, never live animals.
Interview by Ellie Rowland-Callanan