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25/11/19

Meet our team - Mark Castell

Meet our team - Mark Cstell

Mark Castell recently moved from our Netherlands office to Dubai.

We spoke to Mark before his move to ask him about some of his highlights from working with the business for 20 years and what he has learned from working in various different regions

Tell us about your background.

I am a Chartered Quantity Surveyor and Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (FRICS), with a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA). I spent 14 years working for the contractors John Laing and Balfour Beatty, dealing with measurement, valuation, variations, claims and contractual issues on a number of civil engineering projects in the UK. Following this I moved to Bechtel where, to start off with, I led a team of Contract Administrators on a water and waste water programme management contract, before undertaking a number of roles on a fibre optic network installation project that connected the UK, France and The Netherlands. In 1999, I joined Trett (as it was then) in its Manchester office and got greater exposure and involvement in claims and disputes. In 2003, I relocated to the Netherlands office with my family and lived there for 16 years before recently moving to the UAE.

I completed my studies for my MBA in 2004, took over responsibility for the Dutch office in 2006 and opened our office in Germany in 2013. For the last few years, I have focused on expert witness appointments, in both delay and quantum.

What are your career highlights?

There have been a number, but the following stand out in my memory.

My first real experience of having to deal with cultural and language challenges in a pressurised project environment was when I was living and working in France for the large American business Bechtel. We employed a well-known French contractor to undertake the design and installation of the section of the fibre optic network that I was responsible for. Despite the challenge of working in the French language with the contractor, the English language with my American Bechtel colleagues, a very demanding client, an aggressive schedule, and the regulatory demands of the French authorities, the section of the project was completed on time, on budget and without any disputes. I learned a lot from this period of my career.

In more recent times, I have undertaken more than 25 expert witness appointments and expert determinations, which have also provided me with many instances of professional satisfaction; the first time I was appointed on a dispute of more than $100 million; my first party-appointed expert determination, which was accepted without revision by the parties concerned; my first court-appointed expert determination in which the judge rejected one of the party’s challenges and upheld my opinion without amendment; the times when arbitrators have agreed with my opinions and used them in their awards.

Tell us some of the best things and challenges about working in different regions.

Most of my work is on projects which are undertaken in the English language, but located outside of the UK and in which continental European or Middle East based parties are involved. In many cases, English is not the first language of the individuals with whom I am working. As such, there are often both cultural and language challenges to be dealt with, which is something I enjoy.

Most of my colleagues within the continental European region with whom I have worked for 16 years, are also not from the UK. In fact, the staff based at our Dutch, French, and German offices originate from around eight different countries, which has added a wonderful extra dimension to day to day working.

It is a similar situation now that I am based in the UAE, as my colleagues also originate from different countries with even more of an international spread.

Whilst I am able to communicate in both French and Dutch, my linguistic capabilities were not good enough for me to have been involved in the commissions undertaken in the continental European offices where the contract language is either Dutch, French or German. This was occasionally a cause of frustration to me.

Why Driver Trett? What has kept you with us?

I have worked for the business for 20 years and so there has to be many reasons.

Primarily, it is the varied work and the colleagues that I have worked with on a daily basis over the years.

In addition to this, the nature and success of our business has enabled me to take advantage of opportunities that have presented themselves so that I can develop myself. For example, relocating to different countries and exposing myself (and my family) to different attitudes and languages. Being part of the senior management of the business during both good and challenging times and whilst it went through two changes in ownership. More recently, being able to focus on expert witness work as part of a well-respected brand (Diales).

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