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13/09/18

Emphasising the importance of recognition!

Emphasising the importance of recognition!

Alasdair Snadden – Country Manager, Driver Trett Singapore outlines the human need for recognition and its role in the continual development of successful professionals.

Introduction

This year is my fifth working at Driver Trett. In this time, I am incredibly lucky and grateful to have been given so many fantastic challenges and opportunities and to see so many around me excel and attain wonderful achievements and successes. It has been quite exceptional.

So, when asked what I feel is the most beneficial aspect of being part of the Driver Trett team, my overwhelming thought is summed up in one word – recognition!

Why is effective recognition so important? 

The idea of recognition may wish to be seen as some sort of tangible reward - a pat on the back, promotion, or money perhaps? These are, for sure, great things to receive. However, the recognition I put forward here has a deeper meaning that stems from thoughts of the philosopher Hegel. That is, to recognise someone not only means accepting a person for who they are, but also appreciating that how you perceive and recognise them will, in turn, make that person become what they are. In other words, it is only through how a person is seen and treated that they will ultimately achieve a goal.  

It is so important, because ability alone is never enough and it is seldom the case that raw talent does not need appropriate recognition which provides effective assistance. This is demonstrated well through something very close to my heart, football (or ‘soccer’ as my new Managing Director, John Brells (an American), would know it).

Without people willing to recognise and support a footballer, then irrespective of how good they are, they are unlikely to achieve their potential. Even Lionel Messi for example, arguably the greatest footballer to have graced our world, needed this. As a youth he required growth hormones, which proved too expensive for his family and his football club in Argentina. Had those around him not realised just how good he could be and pushed this very shy boy into the Barcelona system (who supported his treatment), then perhaps Messi’s story would have had a differing conclusion to the one we are fortunate enough to know now.

So, by being part of Driver Trett, a company that overtly recognises the importance of embracing and encouraging talent, I have been able to realise just how essential this type of recognition is. You will only ever understand and develop what you are further if it is acknowledged, supported, encouraged, and advanced by the people around you.

How does Driver Trett achieve effective recognition?

There are broadly two ways effective recognition is attained by working for Driver Trett; internally and externally.

INTERNAL RECOGNITION

This recognition is provided by those within Driver Trett and it happens in so many ways. To explain why this occurs, perhaps the best understanding comes from something that happened to me when I first joined Driver Trett and worked on a case for Mark Wheeler (Driver Trett global chief operating officer). As a young and incredibly nervous consultant, I managed to get Mark lost in Singapore, one of the smallest countries in the world. During which time we were speaking about the business and Mark told me that Driver Trett can only afford to have the best people within the company.

At that point, given what had just happened, I took a big gulp and thought my days were numbered. However, given time, along with obtaining an improved sense of direction in Singapore, I came to realise Mark was emphasising that, as a business, if we are surrounded by those who want to be and are considered the best, it perpetuates excellence, where everyone enhances everyone. This can only be a great thing for the business and something I have clearly seen and felt in the last five years in Singapore, where Driver Trett has gone from strength to strength.

It happens when peers work closely together and appreciate each other, talking and sharing ideas on how best to move forward with a commission or deal with a problem faced. Many a time I thought I had the answer, shared it with a genius colleague and then, once receiving their advice, decided I needed to go back to the drawing board.

Indeed, sometimes the simplest advice from peers goes the longest way. An obvious one for me is my IT skills, as those around me have made me shake off my Luddite tendencies and realise how powerful such skills will be to me and the business. Indeed our office, through Dr John Lancaster and David Pritchard's leadership, now has a dedicated team seeking to advance the use of artificial intelligence in bringing better efficiency to our data capturing on mega projects. It is quite remarkable. 

Having leading figures in their field of expertise within Driver Trett also means opportunities arise to work on landmark cases. This provides a chance for many to showcase and enhance skills on commissions that they would have never been able to look at, if it were not for these key figures. Certainly, I know our three regional directors based in Singapore, Dr John Lancaster, Matthew Wills, and Sheuan Seen Chung, take nothing but great delight from leading our teams onto challenging commissions and watching them flourish.

Alongside this, almost organically, internal initiatives come along as our high achievers seek to give those around them their chance. For example, in the UK a positive internal programme has been set up where the next generation of stars are given structured learning courses from our most successful directors in order to improve their abilities as a consultant. In Singapore, where we have a diverse team (something I am very passionate about), our rising star Sandra Somers champions the improved participation of women in our business and recently created a fantastic mentoring scheme; more on these initiatives on pages 13, 32 and 33 of this Digest.

EXTERNAL RECOGNITION

Driver Trett not only gives you the chance to work with great people inside the business, but also exceptional people outside of the business too. The benefit of which cannot be underestimated.

By being part of a 500+ strong consultancy, it means that the structure is in place to handle any matter a client may have; be it acting as the claims consultant or providing our delay, quantum, and technical expert witness services. This means we are fortunate enough to work with the finest clients out there, who recognise our importance and provide the support we need. My recent work has given me a chance to engage with some remarkable engineering brains, who have a thought process and knowledge that has been invaluable to my own development. Alongside this, there are other project team members who realise how important information and documentation is to our work and understand that we need a chance to dissect (sometimes re-dissect) the information provided before putting a position or understanding forward. On two of my recent commissions, this support was essential in order to reach the conclusions found. It simply would not have happened had this crucial support and active assistance not been provided.

As well as working directly with client teams, you also get a chance to work with other third parties brought in to assist on a matter. This will very often mean working with a client’s external counsel. At times this can seem daunting. I remember once the lead partner on a case did not even say hello to me before deciding he needed to start his interrogation on a matter I had been working on. But, having such phenomenal brains recognise that you can provide a crucial contribution means that their questioning, and even critiquing, is really only benefiting you; even when it does mean literally accounting for each and every last cent, late into the night.   

Finally, working for Driver Trett provides opportunities to participate with external bodies, such as academic and professional institutions, who recognise the abilities possessed by our team members. For example, we are often asked to partake in conferences which provide the chance for us to be at the forefront of new ways of thinking, or trying to digest recent changes that have happened in the engineering and construction sectors. Likewise, our team members get exposure to, and acceptance on, courses at leading academic institutions that enhance their recognition and capabilities. This has very recently seen reciprocation in Singapore as our regional director, Sheuan Seen Chung, and our director and quantum expert, Faye Yeo, have now started an initiative with the National University of Singapore whereby students are offered internships with Driver Trett. This is an excellent initiative and a crucial way in which we recognise and introduce the new wave of young and enthusiastic talent into our industry. This not only helps the interns but brings important assistance, and even new ways of thinking, to our senior staff too.

Concluding remarks

I hope the above has given food for thought on just how important effective recognition will be.

Since taking the role as Country Manager, I have seen our numbers in the Singapore office rise six-fold in just over two years. This has included 13 members of staff receiving promotion for their excellent contributions and I am in no doubt many more will follow.

For this, I can only thank the people around these special individuals for recognising such magnificent talent and letting them shine!

Articles  /  Asia Pacific  /  Global

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