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22/08/18

The Minerva effect

The Minerva effect

Irina Comaromi - consultant, Driver Trett UK discusses her journey through the company’s Minerva programme and the opportunities open to the next generation of construction consultants and experts.

Over the last two years, Driver Trett has taken a proactive approach to recruiting and developing junior members of staff. This has incorporated structured in-house and external training, secondment to contractor and employer businesses, and assisting senior members of the Driver Trett and Diales teams.

‘Minerva’ is a structured training programme which has been developed and implemented by the senior management team, supported by directors within the business. Minerva candidates are expected to undertake several training programmes, including an additional, relevant post-graduate qualification. With the support of their mentor or director, they must fulfil strict criteria over a minimum of two years. Once this is achieved, the candidates will graduate from the programme. The hope is that these candidates will be the senior management, or Diales experts, of the future.

During 2018, several of the first tranche of candidates to undertake the Minerva programme will be hoping to graduate. One of these candidates is Irina Comaromi, a planner based in the Driver Trett Bristol office. The Digest caught up with Irina to discuss her thoughts on the programme.

Irina, what was your background prior to joining the Driver Trett team?

I was working for a consultancy firm in Romania, specialising in planning on large civil engineering projects, such as major infrastructure, roads, and rail. I had also spent time working in Europe and the Middle East. In addition to my planning experience, I have a qualification in quantity surveying.

What prompted you to apply to join Driver Trett?

I was always keen to be a part of an international team and deal with new challenges. The UK has a tendency to constantly develop, which made it a fertile ground for disputes. I was interviewed by different people from the business and one of the first things I noticed was the fact that they were passionate about their job, as well as having been with the company for a long time.

At the beginning of my employment I went to one of our UK offices and one of the quotes from their notice board caught my attention:

“CFO: What happens if we train them and they leave? CEO: What happens if we don’t and they stay?”

It was then that I realised that there was no better place for me to be. As a young and enthusiastic employee, it seemed to be exactly what I was looking for. I was eager to learn and expand my knowledge, and needed support from experienced people in the industry in order to do so. Driver Trett has not let me down. A few months later I was offered the opportunity to take part in the Minerva programme. It came as a new challenge for me and a very good opportunity to grow within the business.

It was explained to me that I would be required to work through a large number of competencies, some of which I was confident that I could already achieve, some that would be a challenge, and a number of them that were completely out of my comfort zone. However, I was given guidance on how the competencies could be achieved and who I could work with to improve those areas. This involved working with people in other regions, who work on different projects, and attending external events; getting to grips with the way the company is run and marketed as well as getting involved in complex dispute work with some of the experts.

To date, I have had a number of these more difficult competencies signed off and am being well supported to work towards the remainder and graduate from the scheme. I have had very positive feedback on my achievements over the last two years and have accomplished a great deal. I can honestly say that I am sure that making the move to the UK and to Driver Trett has been very positive for me, and I haven’t looked back.

What makes the Driver Trett team special?

Driver Trett is a rewarding company to work for because you get to work with some of the industry's leading experts and pick up tips and skills from them. You get the benefit of on the job training whilst being exposed to real issues that clients are facing on important projects from various sectors.

Driver Trett is a team more than a business. The main concern is adding value to our clients' projects. The idea of growing and developing within the business is one of the most satisfying aspects of my job.

I also get to work with members of staff from different offices and different specialisms. Although my background before moving to Driver Trett was mainly heavy civils, since joining Driver Trett I have worked on building projects, power projects, consultancy, and supporting the expert teams in their expert commissions. I have had the opportunity to work overseas and I have always found that senior staff are willing to take the time to explain what they are doing as well as what my role involves.

What would you say to someone looking to join Driver Trett?

I would definitely encourage people to join Driver Trett. For the ones who are confident and are looking for a challenge, I’m sure there will be future opportunities to join the Minerva programme.

I cannot say it is easy, working and studying at the same time can be a bit of a challenge. Although it can be a bit frustrating that you cannot enjoy the only sunny Saturday of the summer, because you need to finish your coursework (this would not be an issue in another climate … or maybe you don’t like summer anyway!). On a serious note, determination and ambition are the key requirements.

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