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Q&A: John Greenwood, JN Bentley

The engineering director discusses Bobby Moore, inconsiderate drivers and how to reach out to young people to convince them to enter the industry.

Who would you most like to shoot with a paintball gun?

Inconsiderate drivers. I am a keen cyclist and runner and the number of accidents and near-misses I see caused by drivers with a lack of awareness is alarming.

You’re God for the day. What’s the first thing you do?

Provide clean drinking water for everybody.

Who is your hero?

Robert Frederick Chelsea Moore – or Bobby Moore, as he’s better known – a great footballer and captain of the World-Cup-winning England team.

What has been your worst business decision?

Not taking responsibility for my career earlier. Once I realised I was in control of my working destiny I stopped waiting for things to happen and got on with making them happen. 

And best?

Deciding to use in-house resources when commissioning a long-distance pipeline, instead of external specialist expertise. Using our skilled in-house workforce stayed true to one of the key values of the business – where we get out there and do as much of the work as possible ourselves. 

Who are you enjoying listening to?

I have a varied music collection; I’m currently listening to Tom Odell quite a lot but The Killers and Oasis are also favourites.

What is your favourite book?

I don’t really have a favourite, but I’ve just finished reading Dominion by CJ Sanson – a political spy thriller set in London after the Second World War that takes a ‘sliding doors’ look at how things might have been if Britain had surrendered to Nazi Germany.

What would you take with you to a desert island?

For sheer versatility (a source of practical information and entertainment) it would have to be my iPod…and a solar charger. And some sun cream, too.

What characteristic do you most dislike in others?


If you were blessed with the necessary talent, what would your dream job be?

An Olympic athlete, participating in any of the long-distance running or cycling disciplines. 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Trust your instincts. Seek advice for sure from those in the know, gather all the facts you can but then take time to listen to yourself – your intuition will guide you.

What should the construction industry be doing to help itself in the current climate?

Continuing to develop skills and talent at every level by reaching out to people at all ages and stages of their careers, whether it’s providing work experience for school leavers, apprenticeships or graduate placements.

Last year, JN Bentley helped influence 350 young people to consider a career in the world of engineering – this makes good business sense.  

What’s the best work-related thing you did recently?

With my recent role change I have been spending time looking at the health and safety statistics and business risks from an alternative perspective to identify particular areas to make people think differently, and to keep delivering against our goal of zero injuries and zero instances of work-related ill health. 

How would you like to be remembered?

It would be nice just to be remembered! But if I was remembered as someone who could be trusted, then that would be even nicer.

John Greenwood was appointed engineering director at JN Bentley in April 2013 with responsibility for the company’s quality, environmental and safety management.

He has worked for the privately owned £120m turnover construction company for 16 years. John has undertaken a number of different engineering roles nationwide and is now based at JN Bentley’s HQ in Skipton, North Yorkshire.

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