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Small firm, big challenge

Peer-to-peer: Tom Brankley, managing director of contamination specialist EDSR

I worked on the Channel Tunnel for Balfour Beatty for seven years and then spent four years on the Millennium Dome with Nuttall.

The main drive for me to move to a smaller business such as EDSR is to have the autonomy and be more entrepreneurial.

I enjoyed the large projects but this firm can take on small but very interesting projects.

The jobs are not as large or glamorous, but they are equally challenging. You take on more responsibility and need to be multi-skilled. You have to jump in at the deep end in some areas.

In a large company you have to work systematically and fit into a spot. There is a lot less room for innovation and risk-taking.

The roles and responsibilities are in quite a defined area. They are so large there is not a great deal of interaction.

In a smaller company there is much more interaction between staff and you can quickly sort out problems because the lines of communication are shorter.

We must remain a niche company – we look to take on the more difficult projects and pull other experts in. That’s quite exciting for all the people involved.

At times you miss the support structure a large company offers, for instance there’s more HR, more planning levels within the project and more people around to help kick it off.

There is also some continuation, whereas small businesses have to fight for work.

The challenge is recruiting good people. It is absolutely paramount that people really want the job.

We do not want people who are too high up the ladder or stuck in the ways of a large company. We must provide a challenging environment and people must be freed up to make their own decisions.

In a large company a resolution has to get past layers of decision making.

Here, there is a lot of responsibility put on individuals and we have got to be fantastic.

Tom Brankley was talking to Lucy Handley