Birthday cake and BEMS; a day in the life of a project manager

Working in BEMS means going behind the scenes in some interesting places. Places the public wouldn’t normally get to go. From government buildings to behind the scenes at various tourist attractions. Visiting such an interesting mix of places keeps the role exciting, according to our Scottish Project Manager, Steven.

For Steven, the Western High-Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) Link is the most memorable site he’s worked on. It’s an undersea electrical link between Scotland and North Wales. And it allows a whopping 2,250 MW of power to be transmitted in both directions. Rumour has it, engineers working on the project in 2016 discovered an almost-intact wreck of a World War 1 German submarine.

Steven’s background in BEMS

Steven became a BEMS engineer 23 years ago. Before getting into the industry, the only work experience he had was a summer job cutting grass at bowling greens.

He joined Kendra’s Scottish division in October 2022. During that time, the Scottish region was in its infancy and Steven was excited by the prospect of helping to build the region up, alongside our Operations Manager, Graeme, and Regional Manager, Raymond.

Being a project manager is miles apart from being an engineer out on site, but just as fulfilling. You get to see things from a different perspective, from orchestrating project works to relationship building with clients. To give you a taster of what Steven gets up to in his day-to-day role, we asked him to keep a diary for one whole day. Here’s how he got on…

06:15 Rise and shine

I wake up and follow the usual morning ritual: shower, shave, get dressed and wolf down a bowl of breakfast. After saying goodbye to my wife and daughter, I set off a little earlier than normal.

It’s a nice day. The sun is shining and it’s already warm out. In fact, I even had to put the air con on in my car. Not a common occurrence in Scotland!

The drive normally takes 25–30-minutes. Today, however, I stop enroute to grab a latte from McDonalds.

08:15 Arrived at work

Today it’s our regional manager, Raymond’s, Birthday, so I get in slightly earlier than usual to put some balloons and bunting up before he arrives. Graeme and our regional administrator, Sheila, are already here setting up.

We don’t do this for every colleague’s birthday, but Raymond is turning 60 today so it’s a big one. I start my laptop up, but before I sift through emails and generate my daily to-do list, I stick the kettle on for my first cup of tea.

Then Ray walks in – and the surprise on his face makes it all worthwhile!

10:00 Raymond’s Birthday

First thing on my to-do list: finish a description of operations for one of our projects. It’s just a standard BEMS integration project. We’re integrating air handling units (AHU) and air conditioning units (ACU) for a client. This particular client, however, is an interesting one. They sell some of Scotland’s best-selling single malt whisky.

I finish just in time to see Raymond open the gifts we bought him. A set of darts (the same ones Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor uses – a famous dart player for anyone who isn’t familiar the name) and a bottle of Chablis wine. Raymond’s favourite.

We then cut into some delicious chocolate birthday cake, courtesy of Sheila. After washing it down with my second cup of tea, it’s back to business as usual.

10:30 Billing and Forecast

Before I forecast billing for the next few months, I double check whether there’s anything that still needs to be invoiced from this month. Here at Kendra, all invoicing needs to be done by the end of each month. It means we stay on top of our finances – and, to do well in a project management role, you do need to be organised.

I’ve got a fair bit to do before lunch. We’ve got several projects in the pipeline, which we’ll have to start in the next few weeks. To get some start dates in the diary, I spend the rest of the morning calling up new clients and seeing what’ll work best for them.

Our workload has certainly picked up lately. In fact, since we opened the Scottish office in 2021, we’ve been on a constant upwards trajectory. I joined in October 2022 and just in those past nine months, I’ve seen a huge difference. It’s a fantastic feeling, seeing the Scottish region take off before your eyes. The cherry on the cake was winning a contract with the National Galleries of Scotland recently – a fantastic new client for Kendra.

There’s just enough time to squeeze in a risk assessment and programme of works before lunch (a document detailing the order in which we carry out various parts of a project).

13:00 Lunch break

Unfortunately, I lost a friendly wager with our regional operations manager, Graeme. He’s a Manchester City fan. Optimistically, I believed Man City wouldn’t catch Arsenal this year and put a bet on it. For losing that wager, I had to put some sky-blue bunting up at Graeme’s desk (the colours of Man City). I also had to buy Domino’s pizza for the whole office.

13:30 Catchup and planning

While tucking into some pizza, I spend the next hour or calling up our engineers and sub-contractors for progress reviews on jobs. So far, everything appears to be going to plan. Scotland didn’t have the strongest start to the quarter, but we’ve pulled it back and now we’re ahead of target.

To plan in some work for the rest of the summer, I have a quick catch up with Graeme to get the ball rolling.

15:00 Closing out a problematic job

We’ve been helping one of our customers get to the bottom of several onsite mechanical issues. To confirm everything is now working as it should be, I remotely connect to their site. After checking the operation of the system, I send them a trend log showing performance over the last week. Thankfully, it confirms everything is operating as expected. Resulting in a happy, reassured customer. I finally close out the job.

17:15 Interview

Due to our heavier workload, we need to make sure we’ve got enough engineers to keep up with demand. That’s why we’ve been expanding our team. Over the last six months, the Scottish office has hired two new engineers and are now on the lookout for a third and fourth.

We’ve had a few potential candidates in for interviews over the past few months but finding the right people can take time. We have a capable team who work well together, so anyone coming in would have to be a good fit and add to our growing talent pool.

This afternoon, we’ve got a candidate coming in for in for their second interview. He has some great experience and clearly knows the industry well, so we’ve got a good feeling about him!

UPDATE: it went well and we made a job offer, which was thankfully accepted. He’ll now be joining Kendra as Scotland’s new Principal BEMS Engineer.

18:00 Finish up and go home

Taking note of a couple of things that’ll need to be carried over to tomorrow, I get ready to leave. The weather is too good to stay late tonight.

When I get in, I start cooking dinner. I’m treating the family to firecracker chicken tonight. But before settling down for the evening, we take our daughter out to the park. Tonight is her first attempt at riding her bike without stabilisers. She manages it, briefly. But not long after I let her go, she has a wobble. Unhappy about the situation, she demands her stabilisers are refitted!

Contact us

If you have any questions or enquiries about our BEMS engineering solutions, contact your nearest office or email

Interested in joining us?

We’re on the lookout for project engineers, BEMS engineers and more. Check out our current vacancies.