Scott Darrington is an Associate in Woods Hardwick’s civil engineering team. He is currently working from home during the lockdown period. Having transferred his whole desk, including his chair and plants, to his new home office, he explains how he’s getting on at the moment – as well as what made him choose a career in engineering.
We are currently in lockdown due to Covid-19 and the team is working from home. How are you coping with the change?
Working from home does have its challenges however I was lucky enough to have just finished decorating my home office just before lockdown so I am fully set up for home working. I did more or less bring my entire work setup home including my chair and plants – that will will be fun when I have to take it all back! I do miss my colleagues and the office banter but the odd phone call or video chat has helped retain some sort of sanity and social interaction – in particular our Friday night ‘visits’ to the ‘Woods Hardwick Arms’ via Zoom.
Screen sharing has been incredibly useful to help out colleagues as well as being able to take control of their computer to demonstrate and explain things. In terms of work, nothing has really changed – we are still business as usual, working on sites both old and new. There are just a few more emails flying around to clients to resolve queries. We are very much still here for our clients, doing our best to support them in these unprecedented times.
So, the big question..Why engineerIng?
To be honest I wanted to be an architect at school but it turned out that I couldn’t draw! I knew I wanted to do something that would have a big impact and leave a mark on the world and decided engineering was the next best route. Hindsight shows I made the right and for me, the better choice.
What was your career path?
When I was at school I felt that going to university wasn’t for me, I would be better suited to learning on the job than going down a purely academic route. Applying for a job at Jacobs (Jacobs Babtie back then!) they gave me the opportunity to do an apprenticeship which would give me the best of both worlds: practical learning while also studying for a qualification. I studied at Coventry University, completing a seven year part-time Masters degree around a full time job. At Jacobs, I mainly worked on Transport for London schemes, focusing on maintenance/improvement designs across the London Boroughs and a large commercial development/improvement scheme off the A46 in Lincolnshire. After three years I was sadly made redundant – but that’s when I came to work at Woods Hardwick. I hadn’t completed my university studies but Woods Hardwick pledged to support me in completing this – which was fantastic and exactly the type of company I wanted to work for! Since joining, I’ve worked on all kinds of schemes, working my way up from a Technician, all the way to an Associate responsible for managing my own team.
How did you settle in to Woods Hardwick – what do you enjoy about working here?
I settled in fairly quickly thanks to the amazing people that work here, who were friendly and more than happy to help teach me. I was still starting my career in engineering all those years ago and the type of work that I was completing at Woods Hardwick was far removed from the maintenance work at Jacobs. People have come and gone since I started, but a constant is the friendly atmosphere which makes our many social events great fun and always rather competitive – including the charity cycle ride I completed with some of the Woods Hardwick team last year!
What type of projects you get involved in and any stand out projects?
I work on most types of projects, from residential to commercial, large and small, landscaping schemes requiring an engineering input as well as designing sports pitches (football/rugby and cricket pitches). I would say my stand out project is Darwin Green in Cambridge as it was one of the first big schemes I worked on. I have been involved with it for nearly 10 years (so far). I’ve helped taken it through Outline Planning, Reserved Matters and Detailed Design on both the infrastructure and first residential parcel, all the way through to working with the Contractor during the construction stage of the infrastructure works. I’ve learnt so much from it and it’s helped me learn aspects from other disciplines which I’ve since been able to bring to other schemes.
What would you recommend to any budding engineers? How do they make themselves stand out?
In any job, you have to be interested and enthusiastic in what you do. In terms of standing out, if you know you want to be an engineer, or any job really, approach companies early on and try and get work experience. This could be fruitful later on in terms of job offers or apprenticeships. A number of people at Woods Hardwick started this way and are still here many years later. I would really champion going down the apprenticeship route – university and qualifications are important but that element of practical knowledge learnt on the job is invaluable. It also shows a level of interest, commitment and enthusiasm that will make you stand out from everyone else.
We are currently recruiting in our Engineering team. To find out more about the opportunities and how you could join Scott and the team, visit our Careers page.