Courses and training
A single good course can boost motivation or even change a career path. Claire Symes asked a number of engineers which courses stood out as the best and why.
Chris Tyerman, Costain regional manager ‘The course that really sticks out in my mind was a performance management workshop which I attended about five years ago. It was a five day course run by Clive Rubery and it was the first time I had ever taken a step back and looked critically at my management style.
‘Role playing and other group exercises helped me to assess my own way of presenting myself and understand why others act as they do. It also improved my listening techniques which are essential for good communication at work and taught me other techniques which I still use almost every day.’
Nicky Howgego, design manager, Scott Wilson Railways ‘I have just passed my professional review but I don’t think it would have gone so smoothly if I had not been on a professional review preparation course run by Brian Madge Associates beforehand.
‘In essence the course was a practice run of the real thing with a presentation and essay questions under exam conditions. After the mock presentation I was told to slow down and taught techniques to help calm myself and, because you sit to do the talk, what posture to adopt.
‘The essays were marked by an ICE reviewer and the comments really helped me improve my planning and writing skills. I was still nervous before I took my review, but once it was under way, the new skills I had learnt helped me to relax.’
Dave Strickland, Shell roads and airfields engineer ‘I attended the University of Nottingham’s bituminous pavement, materials, design and evaluation course two years ago and it really helped shape my career.
‘I’m a chemist by training but worked closely with engineers at Shell and the course gave me a better insight into the importance of mix design and volumetrics on bituminous materials. The skills I learnt during that course have helped me with my day to day work at Shell and will always be useful.’
Rowenna Walker, project manager, Railtrack West Coast ‘Before I completed my CPR I went on an effective presentation training course run by the Royal Engineers at Chatham. It was aimed at people approaching chartership but could be good for anyone who has to do presentations at work.
‘During the first of two evening sessions we talked about what makes a presentation good or bad.
We then split into smaller groups to do an impromptu five minute talk on any subject with feedback from the group.
‘Before the next meeting we had to prepare a 10 minute presentation on a civil engineering topic and present it to the group, and a lot of people used it as a trial run of the CPR presentation. I really felt that the course helped to improve my preparation and public speaking techniques as well as my confidence.’
Steve Powell, HR director, Roger Bullivant ‘Executive Stretch was probably the most challenging and thought provoking course I have ever been on. It was run by the Army and involved roughing it and intense, non-stop assault courses and problem solving exercises.
‘It taught me how essential teamwork and communication are to success and not to take creature comforts for granted. I approach my work differently since completing this course. I now stop and think about what I am trying to do and how I should communicate my aims to others. I also realised that hair gel is not an absolute essential.’