Joining the IHE is easy using our new online application processJoin us now
Member of the Month
Marshel Weerakone MEng CEng FIHE
- Thursday October 8, 2020
Marshel is the project manager for Highways England’s new Scheme Delivery Framework (SDF), responsible for ensuring the £3.6bn capital delivery framework contract is developed and ready to be rolled out for its November 2021 go-live date.
What inspired you to become an engineer?
Initially I wanted to be a pilot but I lost interest in that and set my ambitions on becoming a civil engineer. I was naturally good with numbers, particularly the application of mechanics and use of equations so that, combined with my desire to see more of the world, seemed like a natural fit.
Can you describe a typical working day?
A typical day for me involves engaging with operational staff across the regions to understand any issues they have with the existing contracts and looking to resolve that through contractual amendments. I spend a lot of time working with colleagues, developing design and construction contracts so they are better aligned with our Asset Delivery model.
Are there any particular challenges or unusual aspects to your role?
Not only am I delivering the largest ever framework for Operations, but it is also a national framework. The majority of capital works contracts are let across Highways England via its 12 areas so a key challenge is to ensure the first national contract meets all areas’ needs and facilitates a consistent way of working.
What do you find most enjoyable about your job?
The fast-paced nature of the work. Requests for contract and/or operational changes are constant as we’re continuously looking to improve how we deliver work.
What made you join the IHE?
I joined following my move to Highways England. I had built up a wealth of experience as a consultant working in the office and on site for both public and private sector clients. I wanted to take the next step in my career and become professionally qualified.
Tell us about a great professional achievement or high-profile accomplishment
In 2018 I won the ICE North West Emerging Engineer Award. This was for leading in developing and implementing the management of newly identified structures. A large UK water company required expertise in identifying the location of over 150 bridges and developing a risk-based approach to the renewal of the assets. As technical lead, I undertook over 90 operational safety assessments and 100 general bridge inspections.
What contributed to your decision to become professionally registered?
I was fortunate enough to have spent all of my professional career working in teams with professionally qualified colleagues. The support and mentorship they provided was invaluable and played key part in me pursuing professional registration.
In what ways has registration benefited your career?
Becoming a chartered engineer has provided me with the confidence to tackle more complex engineering contract issues. I can see a lot more opportunities available to me if I wish to pursue a change from managing contracts.
How does your employer benefit from your professional registration?
Highways England welcomes chartered engineers as it demonstrates the competency of staff and they are keen to put those staff in more responsible roles.
Is there any advice you would pass on to someone considering professional registration?
Don’t be put off by the volume of work that is needed for the application process. The reward is worth the effort.
Given the current economic and environmental climate, what do you consider the biggest challenges facing the highways and transportation industry?
The biggest challenge for the industry is still the uncertainty that COVID-19 brings. A lot of local authority roads and major routes, as well as Network Rail, may need to determine new processes for forecasting future passenger numbers; this will impact on whether new schemes are really required or not.
Where do you see yourself in your career in five years’ time?
My aim is to be leading on more complex projects. It would be good to be at the coalface again, either developing or constructing schemes on site.
Do you participate in any other career-related activities, such as mentoring, volunteering or membership of other engineering groups?
I’m currently chair of the Joint Institutions Group, having held the position for nearly three years. The role is really exciting as it involves working with the main engineering institutions in the North West. We arrange engineering workshops for students interested in pursuing a career in engineering. Last year we had over 400 students from over 40 schools attend.
Outside work, is there any activity you enjoy doing in your spare time personally and/ or professionally?
I’m a keen scuba diver and traveller so plan a couple of trips throughout the year.