Day in the life - Phil Garlick 

Phil is an Associate Director and has been with the business for nearly 10 years. He is a contract specialist with responsibility for managing assignments and client liaison. Whilst he is based in the UK, he also works across our global project portfolio, with his current role being on an infrastructure project in Canada. Phil enjoys sharing his expertise with our clients and regularly delivers project workshops and staff upskill programmes.

What work do you do for Systech?

I work within the contracts division providing through project services to our clients.  This includes advising on procurement strategies, forms of contract, commercial management procedures, on-site contact administration and claims/dispute avoidance. I also deliver training programmes on a wide variety of topics including contract management and project kick off workshops where I will make sure that the members of the delivery team understand their roles and responsibilities and are fully appraised of the contract, particularly any unusual bespoke clauses.

What is your typical day?

Since June 2020 I have been working with the government body responsible for the public transport network in Toronto, Canada.  Due to COVID, like many others, the team were all working remotely until mid-2022.  I have therefore been working from the UK which is 5 hours ahead of my Toronto based colleagues.  Whilst these circumstances can sometimes mean being on calls late into the evening, they also provide me the advantage of getting ahead of the game by working in the morning when necessary. I am now making arrangements to allow me to spend time in the client’s Toronto office and am looking forward to finally being able to meet the team in person.

What are the interesting aspects of your work?

The variety of the projects and disputes with which I’m involved is what interests me the most.  Whenever you think that things could not have been more challenging on a project, the next assignment presents you with a whole new set of circumstances.

What are the challenges?

The most challenging aspects I have to deal with are time and quality.  The nature of the service we provide, often means we have to work to strict time limits.  This will usually necessitate a steep learning curve to ensure we understand our client’s requirements from the outset and focus our efforts accordingly.  Obtaining quality information is the other major challenge.  The successful outcome of many of our assignments is usually directly correlated to the quality of the evidence available to us.  The real challenge is to produce the best you can with the available records.

What training and support has Systech given you?

I regularly attend Systech in house training seminars which always prove to be thought provoking.  I was also fortunate to be invited to attend the Systech Management Programme which develops business, leadership, and management skills.  Part of my role at Systech involves providing bespoke training courses for clients.  Whilst I am the one providing the training, I typically find the delegates a great source of knowledge and always try to learn from them.

What words of advice would you offer someone thinking of working for Systech?

Systech does literally provide you with a world of opportunities.  We are proud to work with many of the biggest UK, European and global construction businesses.  This allows our consultants the opportunity to experience some of the largest and most interesting projects not just in the UK but globally.  I have been fortunate to be involved with major projects in London, Istanbul, and Toronto.

What social activities have you been involved in?

Prior to COVID, Systech would always arrange after work food and drinks a couple of times a year.  The Christmas party is also a staple and great opportunity to catch up with colleagues.  Other social activities get organised by colleagues; one such activity I chose to turn down was a boxing session in an East End gym.

What is the culture like?

There is a very supportive culture within the organisation.  People’s strengths are recognised and respected.  My experience is that we deliver assignments and grow the business as a team for the benefit of the organisation as a whole.

How has working for Systech helped you achieve your career goals?

Working for Systech has allowed me to continue my development as a manager.  It has also provided me with experience of major projects and disputes that were not available to me in previous organisations.

What makes working for Systech different from the competition?

The diversity of projects and clients really make Systech stand out from the competition.  I think the reason for this is the extensive range of commercial and legal services that Systech can offer.  There is also a great team culture and easy access to key decision makers.

What has been your greatest achievement working for Systech?

Making a difference on projects always gives me the greatest satisfaction.  Managing to resolve disputes without the need for referral to a tribunal is always an achievement.  I am also proud of having been asked to join the management team as an Associate Director.

Tell us about a project where you have learnt a key lesson?

It is easy to assume that others have the same knowledge as you.  What often makes perfect sense to you can be totally misinterpreted by the other party.  This can be key when preparing claim adjudication submissions.  Having had one or two such submissions misunderstood in the past I always try to have key documents reviewed by a colleague.  I also advise others to draft documents in such a way that somebody with no knowledge of construction can understand them.