Q&A with Rob Terrell

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Full Name: Rob Terrell

Job Title: Senior Geotechnical/Geo-Environmental Engineer

Company: Ground and Water Limited

What is your background and how did you end up working within the geotechnical industry?

Following 4 years of University study, I embarked in a career in geotechnical and geo-environmental engineering at Ground and Water. In 2016, I started as a field technician, where I learnt the physical and practical aspects of the geo-engineering industry. One year on, I transitioned to the engineering career path, applying and developing my knowledge of soil mechanics and chemistry, before steadily progressing to the senior geotechnical/geo-environmental engineer I currently am.

What does a typical day entail?

Whilst devouring some muesli, I refamiliarize myself to my project spreadsheet and prioritize tasks. Whilst undertaking the reporting, modelling or sample assessing I prioritise, I also make sure to check in with my mentees, technicians and site workers, providing guidance when needed. Another part of my day is guaranteeing client satisfaction, whether that be from hitting deadlines, providing project aftercare, or ensuring project-specific requirements are accounted for.

Within your career to date, what is your greatest achievement?

My greatest achievement to date would be an ongoing and constant one; watching my mentees and colleagues develop and learn their craft, becoming competent and assured geo-engineers. I really enjoy transferring and sharing knowledge and experience to my colleagues, which is an integral part of my senior role within the company.

What is your favourite part of your job?

Being in a small (but swiftly growing) company, there is a real family feel and my colleagues are genuine friends who make the days more enjoyable. I am grateful that they support me not only at work, but outside of work also.

What are the most challenging aspects of your role?

The industry is fast paced and can be very demanding at times, which can often take its toll; luckily, I have a good team around me and a proactive mindset which mitigates this stress greatly. Comfort food also helps!!

If you could do it all over again, would you choose the same career path for yourself? And if not, what would you change?

I believe it is beneficial to undertake a technical/site based role so that you fully understand the basics as well as the importance of detail. Then when you are an engineer, you know what is required during site investigations at the earliest opportunity. Therefore, I am happy with the path I took.

What AGS Working Group(s) are you a member of and what are your current focuses?

I am part of the geotechnical working group as an early career member. Within the group, I am part of a sub-committee working on developing guidance and standards regarding underpinned basement foundations. I am also co-writing an article on how site investigations and sampling can be more sustainable.

Why do you feel the AGS is important to the industry?

I’ve always believed collaboration is key to success, and by bringing together specialists from across the UK, we can all learn from each other and encourage sustainable change within the industry.

What changes would you like to see implemented in the geotechnical industry?

I believe that there is great potential for the geotechnical industry to become more sustainable, whether it is small factors like using reusable/recyclable material, to larger factors like engineering design. A global mindset shift is required to ensure we have a healthy world in which to thrive on.

Lastly any advice or words of wisdom that would you give someone who is either considering this type of job or who are progressing towards chartership?

Work hard, but never forget that rest is equally important and a healthy work life balance is essential. A stressed and overworked brain will do nobody any good. All work and no play etc..!