Editors’ memories

11 September 2012

Brian O'Sullivan (l) and Alan Peterson (R), with current iC editor, Chris Sleight.

Brian O'Sullivan (l) and Alan Peterson (R), with current iC editor, Chris Sleight.

Alan Peterson was iC's longest serving editor. Having joined the magazine in 1975 as field editor from sister publication Contract Journal, he was promoted to the role of editor two years later, a position he was to hold for two decades.

He said one of his most memorable times on the magazine was a visit to the Uri Hydroelectric project in Kashmir, India, towards the end of the construction phase in 1997. "Skanska did that project, and it was the scheme where two engineers had been kidnapped from the site and then escaped a few years before."

He continued, "Early on in my tenure there was the boom in high-rise buildings in Hong Kong and the Middle East. I remember going up a 33 storey building in Hong Kong in a lift with the workers. All the floors were completely open - no hand rails - and when you got to the top floor you were above the clouds. You needed a head for heights on iC! I went straight to the central core of the building pretty quickly."

"In those days, even in the West, health & safety was almost nonexistent," he added.

Commenting on a key change in the equipment industry during his tenure, Mr Peterson added, "When I joined iC, the whole market was localised - globalisation hadn't really happened. Then you saw the big equipment manufacturers buy-up a lot of the mid-sized players, and you're left with them and then just niche players."

Brian O'Sullivan, who edited iC from 1999 to 2002, recalled a memorable interview. "Sir Frank Lampl was born in the Czech Republic and was an Auschwitz survivor, although his family died there. After the war he was sent to a uranium mine for being a bourgeois undesirable, but was later pardoned. He went on to be a big figure in the Czech construction industry, but by 1968 Russian tanks were rolling into Prague. He was afraid he'd be sent back to the mines, so he and his wife fled by applying to visit their son, who was studying at Oxford University.

"He claimed asylum, but didn't speak a word of English and got a job as a labourer on a London building site. Within 15 years he was the president of Bovis and on the board of the parent company, P&O. He was a truly amazing man.

"He said the secret was not only to convince those above you that you're the right person for the job, but to convince those below you. He said 'They'll get behind you and push you to the very top'."

Alan Peterson has retired from journalism. Brian O'Sullivan is a partner in industrial PR company SE10.

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