Des Barker

Des Barker

Demise Engineer
'Employee of the Quarter'

A day in the life of a resident engineer in one of London's prime properties


On his journey into work, Des never knows what the day will bring. As a resident engineer responsible for maintaining a beautiful building in central London, the job places him on the client-facing side of the business. So, no matter what the issue, or how hard the challenge, he's always got a smile on his face for the occupiers and guests of York House in Marble Arch.

Having worked with Sowga since 2014, Des learned his trade with us, completing a college apprenticeship to gain an NVQ Diploma Level 2 in Refrigeration and Air Conditioning. In his current role as 'Demise Engineer' (the official term) he was recently awarded Employee of the Quarter at Broadgate Estates, the company that manages York House.

Hot on the heels of this success, we thought we'd ask him to share his schedule on one random day. What does a day in the life of a Sowga employee involve?

Around 6.30am I start my commute from Gillingham in Kent to King's Cross in London. I love living in this part of the world, having moved out of London with my wife to buy a home. The commute offers a chance for some downtime each day.

By 8am I've taken the tube to Marble Arch and I'm ready to start. This isn't an ordinary place to work; York House is a striking building which never fails to impress me as I approach it from the street. This modern property is 6-storeys high and dominated by a façade of glazed windows around the perimeter. It makes the building a bright and inspiring place to work and it's my job to ensure the people who occupy it continue to feel that way too.

The prime office accommodation forms the biggest part of the building, with five companies currently renting space inside. On the west side, there are 23 luxury apartments, decorated and equipped to the highest standards.

I spend the first 15 minutes of every day running through updates with the early shift engineer, either Jorge or Dariusz, to see if any problems have arisen overnight and need urgent attention. I then spend the next few hours 'walking the floors' which is one of the most important parts of my role. It helps build a rapport with the residents and gives peace of mind, as they can see you're there to help. This is one part of the day I really enjoy, clients often come up to chat or ask for assistance with problems they may be experiencing – the range of issues can vary greatly! From lights not working to strange smells or noises; I'm part engineer, part detective. 

At 10.30am I update the daily report with my colleague Olena, the site co-ordinator, and then pop up to the floors with a list of jobs to do. The shift engineers often take the heavy plant work, so I can focus on any snags that directly concern our residents.

By 2pm it's time for some Planned Preventative Maintenance to ensure the building is working at optimum performance levels and prevent more serious problems from occurring. The advantage of working at York House is the property's Building Management System (BMS) which automatically indicates faults on the computer panel, providing our team of engineers with a clear picture of what's going on across key technical aspects.

This afternoon I'm changing the air conditioning filters to maintain the air quality. Panel filters need to be changed every three months and bag filters every six months, so it's a job I'm very familiar with. I make sure everything is isolated before I begin and work alongside my colleague, to meet Sowga's high standards of Health and Safety. 

My working day finishes at 5pm and I'm off on the return commute. I enjoy the consistency of my role, mixed with the different challenges that arise every day. It's nice to know I'm having a positive impact on people's lives, and being the friendly and helpful face of Sowga gives me a great deal of pride in my work. 

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