On-the-job experience as well as a clear career path can support any ground engineer in their career progression. With over 80 years of experience in ground investigation, SOCOTEC understands the importance of building on previous knowledge, learning from past experiences and maintaining performance standards through the upskilling and training of employees. People and staff are one of our greatest assets – without whom, we cannot achieve our visions and values of commitment and excellence.
Operations director for Ground Investigation, Clare Chapman, talks about the long serving staff within the ground investigation team, and how their longevity with the company brings excellence to the individuals’ personal growth and SOCOTEC’s delivery of service as well as to the wider GI industry as a whole.
Over 12 members of staff have served with SOCOTEC – in all of its original entities – for 25 years and beyond. I, myself, know what it is like to serve the industry for over 30 years.
The complexity of the profession often lends itself to a trickier entry point into the industry. Many new-starters and apprentices need to gain first-hand experience to be able to get to grips with the specialism and technicalities required to complete the job – and, more importantly, complete the job well.
Starting as an assistant at the beginning of his drilling career, John Govan is just one example of a hard working individual who has shown personal progression and career development within the ground investigation team.
25 years since joining the company, John has progressed up the ranks to become a Drilling Supervisor. From cable percussion rigs, to rotary and cable tool Lead Driller, and now fully familiar with conventional and wireline coring systems, John has many years’ experience of drilling in self boring pressuremeters and forming pockets for high pressure dilatometers.
As part of his growth, John received in-house training by senior rotary lead drillers to improve his personal opportunity, as well as the company’s. Now, to give back to the next generation of drillers, John’s remit now includes upskilling our current lead drillers while also training potential lead drillers of the future.
It is through long standing service that members of SOCOTEC are exposed to varying scenarios, projects and gain experience to improve their skillset to become well-rounded ground investigation professionals.
Similarly, Phil Horton, now Trainer Driller, began as a Cable Percussion lead driller in 1993. Highly skilled, Phil has been heavily involved in the development of new lead drillers through in-house training programs for many years. With such an extensive wealth of first-hand knowledge, Phil is often called upon to provide expert advice to colleagues when using non-standard cable tool rigs.
Ground investigation is rarely straight forward! It is complex, and requires an engineer to have a thorough understanding of the ground conditions to best manage and safely execute the appropriate ground investigation techniques.
Being involved with prestigious projects within London and the surrounding area makes Phil best placed to provide recommendations of techniques and safe systems for work sites with restricted access – knowledge which comes from first-hand experience and on-the-job training.
Sharing experience, confidence and methods is key to ongoing fulfilment in the ground investigation industry. Darren Rackley, starting as field technician and now senior field technician, is able to offer his resourceful knowledge to colleagues following 25 years of working on a multitude of sectors and projects including railways, motorways, tunnels, basements, water and sewage. With key involvement in a number of multimillion pound projects, Darren’s bank of experience and recommendations are invaluable.
Through the ranks
Having experience from grass roots level and a developed understanding of laboratory and site work can support a consistent approach to delivery of projects. Over 25 years of working with SOCOTEC, Craig Curtis – now Projects Manager – started as Laboratory Technician before climbing up through a number of roles. It is not just the technicalities of drilling – a successful project relies on a thorough understanding of the importance of liaising effectively with stakeholders, meeting deadlines and going the extra mile to meet the altering schedules of works as the changes arise.
Benefits of longevity
It says a lot about the company when so many members of staff have spent such a long time here, working hard to better their personal achievements as well as deliver a high quality service for SOCOTEC and for our clients.
It’s not just field staff that support the company. Behind the scenes sees a number of dedicated members of staff, at administrative levels and more, supporting those in the field through organisational work. A smooth and efficient service can only be achieved if all aspects of the business are well informed, professional and understanding of the industry. Jenny Harper, as administrative team leader, ensures things keep ticking over, doing the necessary office-based preparations for the onsite works to be completed in line with regulations, health and safety requirements and quality systems.
In the geotechnical industry, it is not unheard of to face and overcome challenges. The GI team show an extensive skillset in managing projects as well as having technical knowledge, which can only come through dedication, determination and commitment to get the job done in the best and safest possible way. At SOCOTEC, we’re keen to reward success and encourage those hard workers with training and opportunities to progress their careers.