Sen Jay Dookayka joined Patrick Parsons in 2019 after a spell as Interim Head of Design Scheme for East West Railway. Operating from our Twickenham office, he is responsible for leading the southern region and developing our rail presence. Below, we discuss with him his career to date, his appointment at Patrick Parsons and his future aspirations for the rail division within the company.
Could you please expand on your education and career path prior to joining Patrick Parsons?
I was born and raised in Mauritius, studying Civil Engineering at the University of Mauritius after leaving school. Upon the completion of my degree, I moved to the UK in 2001 to study an MSc in Computer Science at the University of Manchester.
My working life after University began at Carillion as a Graduate Engineer. The work as a contractor was extremely varied and included exciting projects such as track renewals, the £140m Norton Bridge resignalling and the £80m Stockport Station area remodelling on the West Coast Main Line.
Despite this fantastic experience, I really needed to get some design experience to obtain chartership. This is when I joined Halcrow to work on a mammoth Crossrail project in 2006. With subsequent senior roles at Network Rail and on the Crossrail Bond Street design and construction, my career has remained interesting and diverse.
You joined Patrick Parsons earlier this year. What appealed to you about the role, and the company?
The thing that particularly resonated with me during the process was the vision and ambition of Patrick Parsons. It was something I knew I wanted to be part of immediately. There’s no doubt in my mind that the role will be a challenge, but it’s one I relish and there’s a big opportunity for us to make a real impact in the marketplace.
To test the culture fit, my interview required me to produce a business plan to demonstrate how I would grow the company’s rail division. The plan was well received and the rapport with the board directors was instant.
What would you pinpoint as the high point of your career so far?
Being involved in the £15bn Crossrail from preliminary design to full construction is an undoubted highlight, but I also consider those projects that provided the most problems as high points too.
The Great Western Railway wasn’t easy, but as part of the Senior Leadership team I helped deliver and commission the first electrification in 2016 and the £200m Oxford Station area remodelling in July 2018. In these instances, ultimately reaching our goals, despite the struggles we had, make them the proudest moments of my career so far.
How will this experience be applied to your new role at Patrick Parsons?
As an experienced contractor, designer and client, I will be able to provide a unique set of capabilities at Patrick Parsons that encapsulate all stages of the railway project lifecycle, meaning our service will now go beyond design to achieve successful construction, commissioning and handover for clients and stakeholders.
Could emerging technologies change the way railways are produced in the near future?
The next 5 years will be a testing time for the railway industry. Despite significant investment, passenger confidence is at a low level and there needs to be a fresh approach and perspective. We are the ones to drive this change.
Despite the evolution in digital technology, I personally feel the railway industry is lagging behind somewhat in this respect. In my opinion, areas to develop include automated design, 3D printing to meet demand and holography to visualise new assets in physical space before construction.
One key aspiration within the railway sector is the move towards a digital railway, using digital technology to shorten the headways between trains so that capacity is increased without having to invest in costly infrastructure. At Patrick Parsons, we are driving thought leadership in these areas to bring innovation to the rail sector.
Where do you feel you can take Patrick Parsons’ rail division in the near future?
My overriding goal is simple; to position Patrick Parsons as a main player in the railway industry. We already have a strong multi-disciplinary capability, which can now be deployed to maximise our potential within this area.
In line with our core value of ‘going beyond the brief’, we will not only provide compliant designs but a full engineering management service for the whole rail project life cycle. I will place my focus more on collaborating with supply chains than competing with them, as I believe this will maximise value for the client and ultimately the customer.
The emphasis will be on value creation and efficiency.
Finally, could you provide for us a piece of advice that has particularly resonated with you throughout your career?
Be bold, aim high and think differently, no matter how impossible an objective feels at the time.