“Carbonated Soft Drink” takes me around the world

1 – Chocolate takes me around the world
2 – Beer takes me around the world
3 – Sludge takes me around Warrington

In this the fourth series of where work takes me around the world.

My latest work travel takes me to a carbonated soft drinks factory in Sofia, Bulgaria.

This is exciting because it is more than 9 months since my last trip oversea and the first one since I’ve re-joined the company. From a work point of view, I am exciting to get away from the stress of the work I have in the UK. I love to escape and work in a different country, experience new things.

From a photography point of view, I am even more exciting to bring my new camera the Sony A6000 there. I will be heading to the capital Sofia where there are lots of historical buildings and sites to photograph. And luckily I will have a couple of days of free time for bit of sightseeing too and maybe some model shoots!

The site has also promised free and unlimited supply of soft drinks while we are there!!!

Now that I am back in the UK. I was lucky enough to have arranged 3 photoshoots while in Sofia. They were awesome models and I am really happy with all three shoots, some cracking shots too. To see more of my photos, please visit my photographic website at simonphotography.co.uk

Some teasers here, they are all shot with natural light only!

Model: Marina


Model: Joanna

Model: Celene

and finally me visiting the Rila Monastery and decreasing their trout population (Monastery Trout is the local popular dish)


Beer takes me around the world

Hola !

This is the followed up blogpost to “Chocolate takes me around the world

I am an Energy Consultant, my job is to help companies mainly factories to save energy and water, and hopefully contributes to saving the world!

Climate change is global, so we work all over the world, someone has to do it!

Last time, Chocolate company has taken me to Nigeria, Russia and Sheffield

This time, Beer company is taking me to Ecuador, having already taken me to Australia 😀 and Tanzania. 😀

Beer company wins on this one!

These are all great places to visit, but I know it will be extremely hard work I must say!

Will get the middle weekend to have a look round, and I am notorious as wondering around in middle of nowhere in a foreign country just with my big camera, and I am sure to repeat this 😀

And will share them on my photography website simonphotography.co.uk

There is a Chinese proverb,

“It is better to travel ten thousand miles than to read ten thousand books”

And I am just doing that 🙂

Also if I ever have a bucket list, one thing on there will be worked/travelled to 5 continents. After this South America trip I am one step closer.

Just need find a project to visit the Penguins in Antarctic and I am done!

Be well and take care.


SKM Chief Exec Interview

Employee-owned firm plans for “significant growth” as latest acquisition boosts sustainability & climate change skill base

Simon: Climate Change Rules!


It is second-time lucky for Sinclair Knight Merz (SKM), the Australian professional services firm, which announced yesterday that it is in the midst of purchasing one of the best-known names in UK environmental consultancy, Enviros.

SKM bid for Enviros several years ago, but could not compete against Alfred McAlpine, explained SKM chief executive Peter Dougas, speaking with Environment Analyst.

Times have changed and Carillion’s decision to sell the consultancy less than one year after it bought it as part of a package of companies owned by Alfred McAlpine has been to SKM’s advantage (Environment Analyst 17-Sep-09).

Announcing the impending sale, Carillion said that SKM has agreed to purchase Enviros “for a net cash consideration of some £27 million, subject to completion balance sheet adjustments”. Carillion will use proceeds of the sale to reduce net borrowing, in line with its objective “of reducing this at the year end to below the half-year level of £146 million”. A further announcement from Carillion will be issued once the sale is complete.

Whether the final price paid by SKM proves lower than the headline £27 million figure or not, the Australian firm will have purchased Enviros for less than what Alfred McAlpine paid in 2007. The deflationary impact of the recession is clear: at the time of Alfred McAlpine’s purchase, Enviros was valued at £30 million.

Having been purchased three times in the space of just three years, Enviros staff may be pleased to hear that their latest owner takes a long-term view of its acquisitions and that “significant growth” is very much on the agenda. “We think Enviros has addressed recessionary impacts and our plans are for growth,” said Dougas, implying that further redundancies at Enviros are not on the horizon.

Dougas also said that SKM hopes to find a way to allow Enviros staff to share its parent company’s employee-based ownership model.

While the UK market is not expected to grow substantially in the short term, SKM operates globally from 42 offices and employs about 6,500 staff. Its goal is to incorporate sustainability into all aspects of its work, said Dougas, and Enviros’ expertise, particularly in climate change and energy, should assist in this.

SKM works in four “broad markets”: buildings and infrastructure; mining and metals; power and industry; water and environment. Founded in Sydney in 1964, the company is seeking to grow and has completed 56 mergers and acquisitions since 1996. In autumn 2008 it bought UK sustainable building design firm Environmental Design Consultants and in spring 2008 it merged with Australian environmental consultancy REM.

Meanwhile, Enviros is ranked as the third-largest consultancy (by turnover) in the UK climate change/energy and waste management/recycling sectors in Environment Analyst’s 2009 market assessment. In the boom years running up to the current recession Enviros failed to grow at the same speed as its competitors, however, it has a strong reputation and pedigree. Recently-released financial results for 2008 indicate a turnover of £26.4 million, down 4%, and an operating profit of £1.7 million, spectacularly up from £384,000 in 2007 (Environment Analyst 24-Sep-09).

Globally, SKM claims an environmental consultancy turnover of £70-80 million and a network of environmental staff numbering approximately 1,000. Until now, SKM has been a far smaller player in the UK environmental consultancy sector than the likes of Enviros, although still ranked within the lower half of the top hundred companies in the field, according to Environment Analyst’s market assessment.

Environment Analyst understands SKM’s UK environmental consultancy turnover to be less than £3 million per annum, generated by a team of around 30 staff. SKM’s primary UK environmental revenue streams have been environmental impact assessment/strategic environmental assessment and contaminated land-related work, both of which are likely to have been affected by recession.

SKM’s imminent purchase appears to be popular with Enviros management and staff. “It has gone down really well. After having been owned by private equity and then two plcs it is reassuring for our staff that SKM is an employee-owned company,” commented Enviros’ marketing director, Nigel Clark.

Nevertheless, Clark described Carillion as a sympathetic owner: “Carillion’s been a good home for us in many ways, particularly during recession. Senior management at Enviros thought SKM was the best fit amongst the potential buyers, but we weren’t running the sales process, so we should be grateful to Carillion for choosing such a good owner for us.” Carillion has also become an important new client for Enviros and the two organisations have a trading agreement in place that will continue after the sale.

Environment Analyst understands that interest in Enviros was strong, with trade buyers dominating the bidding. Chief amongst leading bidders were consultancies already active in environmental consultancy seeking to expand their UK activities and/or consultancies wishing to develop environmental advisory practices. Direct competitors from within the UK environmental consultancy sector are not thought to have been significant bidders.

Hopes are high at both SKM and Enviros that the purchase will bring growth and stability. Dougas told Environment Analyst that the cultural fit between the two companies is a good one and emphasised that SKM feels it already knows many figures within Enviros, the two consultancies having worked together in the past. Clark echoed this sentiment, describing the two companies as having a “similar style” and adding that Enviros is excited at the prospect of increasing the amount of overseas work it does.

Passing on tradition

One recent time, I was at a client site.

An engineer said: “I thought the presentation you guys did was very good”

And he went on, “I actually print good ones out and keep them in this pile.”

He then said, “It is as good as the presentation given by March Consulting on Waste Minimisation years ago”

HANG ON, did you said MARCH CONSULTING??????

I am actually the LAST March Consulting employee before March became Enviros. (I still have a March Consulting contract.)

We luckily have some proof on us, so it was really to our amazement more than anything that we HAVE maintained the standard if not exceeded it.

I was over joy. To me, it was a really good compliment.

Hip Hip Hurray. Hip Hip Hurray. March Consulting will always lives on.


Lean Six Sigma (2)

2 days on, I have not yet felt the need to sleep (during the course!). This means two things.

The subject is interesting and the trainer is good!

Whether you find Lean or Six Sigma interesting, you really have to find out for yourselves. But I want to start by describing the trainer.

He is black, with a slight brommie accent. He looks young, still in his 30s I think. He is assured, never jitter. There is no um, but, a, i, x, y, and Z. So I hear you say perfect. HA HA HA….HAHAHA! Obviously not, no one is perfect. His annoying habit is his explosive laughs. I have to say, he controls the atmosphere of the room very well. It is fun. But now everyone started to recognise the time when the explosive laughter have been ignited and we actually prepared for the explosion to come. I hope you get the picture. It starts with a HA HA (intake of Breath) then louder HA HA HA HA. Not evilly but comically!

Some more serious facts about “Claudius Cole” – my trainer. He is an Engineer, with a teacher certification and is a master black belt. So that is perfect.

He TALKS as an Engineer.

TEACHES as a Teacher.

AND I get the EXPERIENCES from an expert in Lean and Six Sigma.

He also reveals today that he received his Lean training from one of the original Japanese guy from Toyota. So I am pretty much getting the knowledge as good as from the horse’s mouth.

That is a BIG PLUS!!!

It fact, it might actually be better, because Claudius’ English will be much better than that of the Japanese guy. So in term of understanding, I would find Claudius better than the Japanese guy. Definitely no complaints there, just the explosive laughs to watch out for.

Now back to today’s course, again a lot of good TOOLS. The best of all is TRIZ. I shall not explain what it is and let wiki to help me.


It is very very useful. I will write more about TRIZ in future with more visual and spreadsheet aid. (when I get it from Claudius.)

Let me tell you a bit more about the Holiday Inn at York. The food is fabulous, tastes very good. The only thing I would complaint is the LARGE portion. However, it is very good value for money, the set menu of 3 courses is £20. I have to say the quality of the food is by far the best compare to all other hotel I have stay in while working away.

So if I am around York in future for work or pleasure, this is the hotel to stay in.

Look at the deal I’ve got, B&B £62 for 3 nights and £75 for 2 nights. So on average it is £67.2 per night. If I am staying at Premier Inn, it would be £65ish anyway. So for me it is a no brainer. It will also do me no harm on my points for the Priority Club!

So I have told you something about the journey getting me to this training. I have also told you something about the course and my trainer. So tomorrow I shall talk about some of the “trainees”. This also means that I have to break my ASBO by going to the bar earlier to speak to them and dig out some interesting facts.

ps I wrote an very appreciative email to my director who has supported me in getting this training. I can’t change his mind from leaving the company. I can’t even show him the skills I have learnt from this course. All I can do is say a big big thank you. Bare in mind I don’t do this often. It is normally I help people. When people help me, I DO appreciate it. I will NEVER forget this. I do have the memory to remember and remind myself not to forget. So as long as my memory last, he will always be remembered as the one who got me on the first step. I promise that every time I do any work on Lean and Six Sigma. He will be credited!

hip hip hurray, hip hip hurray