Alberto Martin

Technical Leadership Engineering

"Severn Trent is a company that invests strongly in its employees, recognising them as its most valuable asset."

1. Why did you apply to Severn Trent, and would you recommend a placement year at Severn Trent?

There were quite a few reasons that made me apply to Severn Trent.

For starters, Severn Trent is a company that invests strongly in its employees, recognising them as its most valuable asset. This is extremely important to me as I like being in continuous training and its tailored training programme will provide me the tools and the knowledge that I need to become Chartered engineer.

Secondly, Severn Trent works in several areas with a diverse, inclusive and multidisciplinary team, which will help to develop myself as a multi-skilled engineer.

Thirdly, I think that everyone should use their skills to make the world a bit better and I found that Severn Trent would provide me the opportunity to make a real difference every day, helping to create a healthy and sustainable future for the planet.

Therefore, I would not only recommend but also encourage everyone to apply for this company. As it is the perfect place to develop your career, facing the new challenges of the water and waste water industry surrounded by the best engineers.

2. What are you working on at the moment?

During the past months I have had the opportunity of being involved on different projects that will have an impact on the performance of our sewage treatment works over the next 25 years.

As a member of the CDC team (Capital Delivery and Commercial), I am working on projects to upgrade the final effluent quality of our sewage treatment plants. Hence, we are analysing the impact that the population growth and the potential catchment issues will have in our existing assets. This will help us to meet the new permits of discharge for the next AMP7 (Asset Management Plan) ensuring that the environment is preserved and that a sustainable development is achieved.

Moreover, I am part of a team of Undergraduates, Graduates and Engineers with different backgrounds in charge of twenty projects with a potential change on the existing storm tank volume. Currently, we are assessing if the existing capacity of the storm tanks is able to cope with the forecasted flows on the design horizon and how to implement the most cost-effective solution. This task involves data gathering, technical design and site visits to get a better understanding of the existing situation.

Finally, as part of a cross-functional team, I am helping other departments to gather information and organise site visits to take samples from our sewage treatment plants. This will help the Process Team to analyse what is the current performance of the plant and to define the notional solution for every site.

3. How do you feel about your experiences to date?

I feel lucky and grateful to be part of Severn Trent because I am developing my career quickly with continuous and personalised training. At the same time, I feel fulfilled with my job and although there is still a lot to improve, I have the support of my colleagues and manager to face any new challenges.

4. How have you found the culture of Severn Trent?

I am delighted to be part of Severn Trent as it is an awesome company to work for with great values and amazing people. Since I joined the Graduate Scheme I have had support from other graduates and senior members to settle in quickly and start defining my Career Development Plan. Everyone is respectful, collaborative and above all passionate about improving the living conditions of thousands of people.

5. Have you been able to meet up regularly with your Line Manager for feedback on the work you’ve completed?

Since I started I have had the opportunity to have a one-on-one meeting with my Line Manager at least once a week during the first month and once every two weeks on the following months. My Line Manager has always shown a supportive approach and has offered me plenty of help to adjust to my new workplace. Also, he is always willing to support me by phone or email.

I really respect and admire him, and I know his feedback is helping me not only to enhance my current strengths but also to identify areas of improvement.

6. Do you feel as through the contributions you’ve made have added value to Severn Trent?

I am passionate about learning and that has been pushing me through to assimilate information quickly to start applying my knowledge on my daily tasks. I have shown proactivity since the beginning and this has contributed to meeting tight deadlines and at the same time has helped to lighten the workload of my colleagues.

Secondly, I have joined the ICE as a GMICE with the goal of keeping learning and improving my skills throughout the Graduate Training Programme. Becoming Chartered brings multitude benefits for me and the company, such as enhancing reputation.

Thirdly, I have volunteered to attend Careers Fairs and Assessment Centres to engage Undergraduates/Graduates to join Severn Trent. This will help to promote the industry and Severn Trent and showing them more about STEM and careers opportunities.

Finally, with the goal of keeping my technical skills up-to-date, I have attended several training courses that are improving my IT skills and that are helping me to carry out my tasks more efficiently.

7. What are the main learning points so far whilst on programme?

One of the main things that I have learnt working for Severn Trent is the importance of building a network and getting to know the right people. This has improved my interpersonal skills and has helped me to complete my tasks more efficiently.

Another learning point is that we do not have to be afraid of asking questions as that is one of the main parts of the learning process. At Severn Trent we are surrounded by incredible people and the best way to improve and work efficiently is making use of their expertise.

Moreover, this role is giving me the opportunity to work on different projects as a member of a team but at the same time is developing my ability to work independently, which is improving my organisational and time management skills.

From a technical point of view, I am now able to identify the main processes of a Sewage treatment Plant, I can assess how the population growth in a catchment is going to make an impact in our facilities and I can apply the design manual to comply with standards when sizing storm tanks.

In addition to that, Data Gathering has been one of the main tasks that I have been doing so far which has helped me to know in more detail our assets as well as to prepare my site visits beforehand. After several visits on site, I am already able to organise and carry out a site visit with Operators and Process Design Engineers highlighting the main issues of the site as well as confirming the main flow and sludge route.

8. Are there any elements of the programme that you’ve found difficult? How have you approached these?

Severn Trent is a vast company and it has different procedures and ways to get access to the existing information. At the beginning of my Graduate Training Programme I was struggling to identify what was the right way to obtain the information that I needed about existing projects, however with the help of other grads and senior members I could overcome this issue. To take the most out of this help I took notes to remember the steps to follow in a later stage.

9. Has the first six months reached your own expectations so far?

The Graduate Training Programme not has only reached my own expectations but exceeded them. I work alongside a wide variety of people delivering projects that will have a positive impact in our society and in our environment and to me this is reason enough to affirm that Severn Trent is the place where I want to develop my career as a Civil Engineer.

10. Are there any other areas of the business you’d like to know more about?

One of the things that I appreciate the most about working for Severn Trent is that there are a lot of opportunities within the business and a wide variety of projects that allow you to tailor your career.

I love working for the waste water team and I would like to complement this experience participating in projects that include the sewage sludge as a source of green energy to contribute to reduce our carbon footprint. I have already discussed this with my Line Manager and we will include this as a part of my personal development plan.

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