Steel Ship to Super Sewer
Tideway Talk spoke to ex-serviceman Darren Duery at the end of his work placement at Tideway East.
Please tell us about your time in the Armed Services.
I joined the Royal Navy straight after my A-Levels as an Artificer Apprentice and trained as a Mechanical and Electrical Engineer, serving for almost 29 years. When I left last November, I was Warrant Officer 1,
the highest non-commissioned rank. Despite ups and downs, it was an amazing experience and I got to travel the world: I fell in love with Australia, served in the Middle East and provided disaster relief after the eruption of Montserrat, in the West Indies.
Why did you choose to pursue a career in construction?
I attended a presentation given by BuildForce – an initiative which supports ex-service personnel into construction careers – and was intrigued. Using their network of connections, BuildForce secured me a number of site visits in December. I realised construction would be a good career choice: there’s the familiarity of structure and teamwork which I have from the Navy and the principles and equipment aren’t that dissimilar – a ship is basically a floating building!
What have you done during your time at Tideway?
I’ve had a busy two weeks. Andy Brown was very helpful in making connections on my behalf, allowing me to visit different teams and see the project from a management perspective.
I’ve worked with five or six teams, including: surveyors, tunnelling, health and safety, mechanical and lifting. The fast pace really suited me – I don’t like to sit still for too long! I didn’t have a favourite department, but they all fitted together like a jigsaw to show me the bigger picture of how a large construction project is run.
Have you enjoyed your time at Tideway?
Yes – it’s proved to be not only interesting but very valuable in helping me understand construction projects.
I had the chance to meet lots of people across the project and spend time on site meaning I got a holistic view of peoples’ roles, the project’s engineering challenges and interaction between teams. I was fully inducted like any new member of staff (I thought EPIC was really powerful and well-put) and I had a swipe card and PPE so I felt fully integrated in the team which was great. I also liked the familiarity of methods, the organisation of work and how friendly everyone was. I will recommend the work placement to others leaving the military.
What are you plans for the future?
I am looking for a job in construction! My time at Tideway has given me a firm start and I feel much more confident about walking out onto site now – I won’t be the new guy who doesn’t know how anything works.
UPDATED Feb 2019
Darren Duery served in the Royal Navy for almost 29 years