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Holger is an independent bid consultant who spends most of his time working in his beloved field of civil engineering. He supports clients’ infrastructure bids in the sectors of rail, utilities, highways, defence, energy from waste, nuclear, aviation, and security. We at Bid Solutions know Holger well but we still had some questions that we fancied asking him to find out a bit more about what makes him tick.

1. Greatest achievement personally?

Non-work: Reaching the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.

Work: Starting my business from nothing and gaining client traction within one month.

2. Best advice you’ve been given that’s helped you in your work?

This question reminds me of a conversation in a lecture at university:

Fellow student: “Will you be giving us notes for this session?”
Lecturer: “Sure, you can have all the notes you’ll ever need; you’ll find them in the library.”

I don’t subscribe to that approach, but I did take away a useful lesson all those years ago: we were being encouraged to teach ourselves and find information independently as part of managing our learning and development. That’s one of the greatest gifts we all have. Tenacity in learning always pays off.

3. Biggest pet hate?

Non-work: Drivers who cruise in the overtaking lanes instead of looking like they mean business!
Work: Long ways of writing short messages, e.g. ‘Prior to the commencement of…’ instead of ‘Before starting…’

4. Guilty pleasure?

Coffee. I know I drink too much of it. Let’s not forget cheesecake, particularly with the biscuit base.

5. Describe yourself in three words.

Curious every day.

6. What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

Slow down; it’ll make you go faster. The 18-year-old Holger didn’t realise that preparation pays off. He wanted to do everything by launching himself into it headfirst. He often didn’t get very far or at any great speed because he spent too much time correcting mistakes.

7. What was your dream job growing up?

As a kid I fancied my chances in space research. I wrote to Sir Patrick Moore to learn about researching the sky at night. He was kind enough to reply every time. Later, civil engineering grabbed my interest when I saw a picture of an engineer at the top of a tower of the Humber suspension bridge on the cover of a careers prospectus.

8. What questions are you asking yourself?

Many, about work and life. In the past week alone, I’ve had conversations that led me to ask:

  • What have I learned today and what difference will that make to how I do things?
  • What am I doing to maintain my own happiness and to make an impact on other people?
  • Is there another human-populated planet in the Universe? To this day, I’m still fascinated by space and what ‘neighbours’ we might have. I think interpreting signals from our own and other galaxies must be an amazing job.

9. One thing you’d like to do better?

Play the guitar. I’ve had several goes over the years at teaching myself and being taught, and I managed to get as far as playing the 12-bar blues. I’ve regressed back to square one and, just to make it all or nothing, the practice ahead will now be more challenging because I’d like to learn slide guitar as well.

10. If you won the lottery, what would be your first indulgence?

After composing myself and calming down, I’d indulge in the genuine thrill of thinking about how to put my new fortune to use for family, friends and good causes. I’d absolutely love to be in a position to give huge amounts to charities, including for mental health, poverty, heart and lung health, cancer, homelessness, and support for veterans. I’d quite fancy a classic car for taking to summer shows. I’d choose from my favourites, which include a 1961 Jaguar E-Type, 1965 Aston Martin DB5, 1977 Lotus Esprit and 1969 Dodge Charger.

They’re not practical or environmentally acceptable for day-to-day use, but they’d be great fun for the occasional spin. I learned recently that it’s now a thing to electrify classic cars. How great is that!

11. Favourite pastimes?

I’m lucky enough to live in the Chilterns, so you’ll find me on long walks in the country or cobweb-clearing rides on my bike at the weekends, always involving a pub stop; the Royal Standard of England is my favourite. I enjoy DIY, particularly making anything from wood; my latest project was a summerhouse from scratch. Reading a David Baldacci thriller is a great way to lose myself in the moment for relaxation. I find that a challenging weights session at the gym is another great way to think about nothing but what’s happening at the time.

12. Most important lesson for life in general?

There’s no such thing as self-made success. We all achieve everything with the support of others, even if we’re the conductors of the orchestra, so to speak, and even if we have to put in the hours. The support from other people might be moral, physical, mental, specialist skills, etc. It’s important to remember who’s helped us on the way because there’s no greater joy than being able to reciprocate people’s kindness.

13. What’s precious to you?

Top of the list are my health, family and friends. Then come the things that should never be wasted, the top five of which for me are time, food, opportunities to help others, opportunities to embrace diversity and money. Some people will testify that I’m embarrassing because I ask for my food to be wrapped for taking home if I can’t finish a meal out. That scenario arises rarely because food is such a joy. I’m against food waste because it’s a sad fact that a lot of people worldwide don’t have enough of it.

14. What advice do you have for newbies in the bid profession?

Resist the temptation to take things at face value. Probe deeper for the golden nuggets that will help you win the day. Remember the most important question in bidding: ‘So what?’ to frame what matters most to the client.

This article was written by Bid Solutions.

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