Interview with Adrian Blacker

2 Sept 2011

Adrian Blacker has been a member of SCI since 2004. He is involved in the Construction Materials Committee and continuously contributes towards the organisation of conferences and events.

What does your current job involve?
I'm Managing Director and owner of Asphalt Associates Ltd and have been in this position for the last ten years. My company imports and exports various construction materials including Trinidad Lake Asphalt. I'm involved in everything from sourcing to cash collection. In between there's everything else, such as; HSE, marketing, shipping, distribution and technical representation.

Did you have an interest in science from childhood?
I was always interested in what made things tick. I spent many happy childhood hours with my father taking things apart and trying to put them back together. This led to a strong interest in the sciences at school, particularly Physics and Chemistry.

How did you decide that you wanted a career in science?
A good question. In fact, I was planning to be a fighter pilot so had started studying Maths, Physics and Chemistry at A Level. In the event I didn't take up the flying scholarship I was offered but took an interim job testing construction materials. It turned out to be the start of an interesting career in the industry.

What motivated you to pursue postgraduate studies?
All study since my degree has been motivated entirely by necessity. Possibly not the noblest of reasons but time is short in business.

What has your experience ascending the career ladder been like?
I think my career has been like many others. Sometimes progression has been logical and considered and at others it has been subject to luck and other external factors. I have moved around a great deal in my adult life meaning I haven't been able, or perhaps wanted, to follow a structured career path. I have though, always tried to spot an opportunity and remain flexible. Both traits have ensured that my working life has been interesting and never static.

What are the most important things you've learned in your career so far?
Remain flexible, positive and try not to say 'no'. I also think it's important to forge and maintain good relationships through organisations like SCI and the various commercial and scientific institutes. Electronic forums and networks are of undoubted benefit but they cannot replace face to face meetings.

What would you have done differently?
I would have done very little differently. Being open to change and opportunity has allowed me to do things that I would otherwise have missed and there haven't been too many dull moments in my career.

How have you set goals for yourself and managed to achieve them?
Being self-motivated has meant that it's always been relatively easy to set my own goals and targets. During my employed career I've been lucky enough to work for, and with, some terrific individuals who have always seen the value of career development. In my business career it tends to be financial targets that are the driver. If you don't do the business you don't get paid.

What would you say have been the key milestones in your career?
The first was taking a job with Messrs. Sandberg and therefore entering the construction materials industry by chance. Everything else has gone from there and led to taking over this business ten years ago.

What key things would a young person need to do if they wanted to get to the position you've achieved thus far?
I can only offer the usual guidance; get suitably qualified, remain flexible and take every opportunity to meet people in the industry or discipline that you want to work in.

How do you achieve work/life balance?
It's a fact of life that sometimes business and career come first and sometimes family and personal life have to take priority. On the rare occasions that all aspects of my life seem roughly in balance, it's purely good fortune and chance rather than careful planning.

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