My life in Construction Management: Guest blog by Graham Hough, UCEM Programme Leader for the BSc (Hons) Construction Management programme

Posted on: 27 February, 2018

Graham Hough

‘Something different’

When I was at school, I didn’t want to stay on to do A levels. It was either that or engineering. I fancied something different.

It seems everyone went into engineering in Bolton. I wanted an alternative and going into construction was the alternative. I went into construction and finished up in the early 80s managing refurbishment contracts.

Unfortunately, there was a recession and I decided to then go to a teacher training college.

Coming from a family of teachers, my father suggested I move into education

I enrolled onto a teacher training course with the University of Manchester which was based in my hometown of Bolton.

Move to Reading

From the teacher training college, I applied for a job at Reading Technical College [now, just Reading College] and was there for 15 years. I taught ONC and HND CIOB courses. I was a Programme Leader there so you could say I’ve come full circle!

I thoroughly enjoyed teaching there. My wife and I didn’t know where Reading was when I applied for the job. We said we would be here for a minimum of three years and a maximum of five years, and that was 32 years ago! I’ve enjoyed living here. All my three children were born here.


I feel like I was destined to help people and feel that if I hadn’t got into teaching, I would have been a paramedic.

My earliest students are now around 50 years old. It’s remarkable. Many of them  now have kids at school and when I taught them, they were only boys and girls themselves!

Joining CEM

The opportunity to come to CEM happened in 2000. The job was Tutor in Construction Technology. It was based in the same town and there was the opportunity of overseas travel.

I took the job as I felt it was a step up in educational level.

Reflections on working at UCEM

The roles I have held since I joined have been an Associate Dean, Interim Dean and Programme Leader for the BSc (Hons) Construction Management programme. I developed that programme in 2003 and now I am still in charge of it. I’m very attached to it.

Through UCEM, I have met really interesting people and people who have benefited from us, with the institution also benefiting from them.

I have been to Hong Kong 12 times and also been to India, Singapore, Dubai, Poland and Malaysia thanks to UCEM. You don’t get that in your run-of-the-mill job.

The highlight of the job for me is meeting our students. What I find is that the Construction Management students worldwide have a good bond and get on well together.

BSc (Hons) Construction Management programme

There are a number of specialisms within the Construction Management programme. This is highlighted in the Integrated Management module I developed in 2003 that has run ever since. Students work together remotely with their peers from different countries and they work well together.

It’s tailor-made to give you the skills to be a construction manager. It really is a specialist qualification that gives you real skills that you can put into practice and it’s a qualification in demand from employers because we have such a good reputation on a worldwide basis.

The programme is accredited by RICS and CIOB which counts for a lot in the industry.

Reflections on working within construction management

The main thing I would say about my career is that I would do it all again. I have no regrets about where construction management has taken me.

With CIOB, I have held posts locally and nationally. I have been a Chair of its professional interview panel. I have been Chair of the Thames Valley Centre. I have had involvement with regional branches as well.

Current state of the industry

I think opportunities exist more so now than in the past and on a worldwide level. It’s a more welcoming industry than it has been in the past. There are more diverse opportunities for people with educational qualifications to do really well.

There are plenty of opportunities to move abroad. You aren’t confined to just one area.

It’s one of the key industries in the UK. It’s high on the government’s agenda in that respect.

The industry is no longer ‘dirty, demanding and dangerous’. It’s an advanced industry moving forward and there is a lot of opportunity in it. There has been a cultural shift in the mindset of people.

There is greater widening participation in the industry. Students now are more aware of health and safety and sustainability. You can now learn from the students and that’s down to the companies in the industry and the policies they are producing. It never fails to surprise me how up-to-date students are worldwide with the current issues.

Benefits of becoming involved in construction management

You gain skills that are in demand at a worldwide level. It’s an exciting and progressive industry which doesn’t sit back on its laurels. It’s moving forward all the time.

If you are a people person, it helps you develop. You can work in construction management, project management and lots of other fields. Communication skills are paramount.

Graham has more than 30 years’ teaching experience, having moved into education from a contracting background in site management. Graham is the former Chair of the CIOB Thames Valley Centre and has extensive experience with the CIOB through his construction management expertise. For more about the BSc (Hons) Construction Management programme, please click here.