Sean Collier - AECOM
Shortlisted for Brownfield Awards Category 15: Best Young Brownfield Professional
‘Business as usual’; words I do not expect we will be hearing for a long time to come.
In March 2020, the UK Prime Minister announced the severity of Covid-19 to the general public. While the pandemic has re-shaped our industry, it has also altered the development and growth of our early careers professionals. With the closure of offices, temporary hold on site-work and intermittent internet connections during Zoom conferences, early careers professionals have been unable to eavesdrop into conversations and soak up the peripheral information inadvertently distributed to us by our senior colleagues. Without this constant stream of background information, I realised that Covid risked stalling the career development of vastly unexplored potential within our industry.
During the first lock-down of 2020, I sought out to fill this knowledge void through leading and developing a network panel reading group within AECOM, initially consisting of a Regional Director and myself to research, explain and discuss key topics associated to the Brownfield industry to our local graduate and early careers cohort. Topics included CL:AIRE Research Bulletin 17, CL:AIRE Definition of Waste and Land Contamination: Risk Management to name a few examples. The aim of the network panel was to facilitate external reading, encourage group discussion and promote professional development during a time of uncertainty and isolation. I would organise with my Regional Director the subject topic on a weekly basis, research the content for professional development and begin each session by asking targeted questions to promote discussion, latterly allowing
other colleagues to come forward with their own questions and comments. The
success of the reading group was unprecedented, developing from local early careers professionals to including experienced senior colleagues, expanding from a local to a national scale within AECOM. The reading group brought together an eclectic group of individuals and continued long into the pandemic, providing information, conversation, and confidence to numerous projects. Early careers staff were able to remain involved within the Brownfield industry during furlough, develop additional skills and contribute significantly to projects on their return to work.
Information gained during this time has significantly increased my knowledge of the Brownfield industry and resulted in numerous spot awards; most noticeably preventing an environmental incident relating to Chromium VI whilst supervising a large-scale ground investigation. I have been able to aid the development of site staff through presenting tool-box talks on topics discussed during the reading circle, enhancing both the safety and quality of a project. The reading circle has also provided the additional education and confidence to recommend solutions to clients, volunteer for leading projects and immerse myself in the Brownfield industry.
To be nominated for the Best Young Brownfield Professional would be the pinnacle achievement of my 2020-2021 year. My intrinsic motivation is continued professional development for both colleagues and myself, aiding career progression for all, and this recognition would inspire the next generation of early careers professionals to stand up and re-define ‘business as usual’.
Ministry of Defence, UK (January 2021 – May 2021)
Gaining appropriate security clearance in 2021, Sean is currently involved in multiple highly confidential geo-
environmental projects. Most recently Sean supervised an intrusive ground investigation at a UK site, responsible for the
appointed subcontractor at all times. The investigation involved the drilling of several exploratory holes to assess
potential contamination within underlying soils and groundwater. While on site directly supervising the works, Sean was
able to identify errors with a provided utility survey and was able to successfully rectify this to avoid any service strikes.
Sean completed the post field work monitoring and was responsible for the analysis of soil/groundwater samples. Sean
managed the confidentiality of the site and ensured that security procedures were adhered to at all times.
Lower Thames Crossing, UK (August 2019 – November 2020)
Sean acted as a full-time site supervisor working on behalf of a collaboration involving AECOM and Highways England,
carrying out the large-scale investigation for the Lower Thames Crossing. As part of the investigation it was Sean’s direct
responsibility to supervise the health & safety as well as the competency of multiple drilling techniques and in-situ testing,
groundwater well development and monitoring activities carried out by a third-party subcontractor, in conjunction with
ecology walkovers and surveys. Sean was tasked with the management of the subcontractor and associated staff to
ensure that all requirements were met to specification standard, reporting any defect to the specification directly back to
the client and implementing corrective actions. During the ground investigation Sean was noted for his positive interaction
with the third-party subcontractor by the client, by providing knowledge and expertise to all ground staff wherever
possible and promoting excellence and training opportunities whilst on site.
Post completion of the works, the project was awarded 2020 Ground Engineering Health and Safety Award for drilling rig
conformity safety programme in which a total of 58 rigs were placed into isolation following on-site inspections in which
Sean was directly involved with. A further total of 146 non-conformances were identified and corrected during on-site
Confidential Oil Client, UK (February 2018 – November 2020)
As an engaging member of the GETS team, Sean directly assisted a confidential oil client with their environmental
assessment and asset management scheme through site investigation, interpretation of results and follow up report
writing such as validation, desk-based review, comprehensive and Phase 2 reports. Sean was also primarily involved
with the investigative site works and has experience in well decommissioning, groundwater monitoring, verification soil
sampling and drilling operations. Sean has gained experience on a significant remediation project, assisting with the
operations and maintenance of two separate systems, in conjunction with collecting environmental samples for
laboratory analysis. Having combined competent skills in contaminated land monitoring, ground investigation and
sampling, Sean can perform all aspects of an environmental assessment at a site, significantly reducing time constraints
with associated cost benefits from only requiring one site engineer.
Frongoch Lead & Zinc Mine Remediation, Natural Resources Wales, Wales (June 2018 – August 2018)
Sean occupied the role of the construction quality assurance inspector for the installation of a geosynthetic clay liner over
the former Frongoch lead & zinc mine waste, whilst taking a leading role in monitoring site safety over a two-month
period. Sean’s role whilst full time on site was to observe, record and oversee the remedial works to ensure that the
specification was adhered to throughout, assisting as an integral part of the project team and communicating directly
back to the contractor, AECOM and Natural Resources Wales. Whilst on site, Sean was awarded a spot bonus after
observing, intervening and communicating an unsafe act back to the client, confirming that health and safety procedures
were being adhered to. Sean made the contractor aware of this, providing insight for future improvement and learning,
resulting in no secondary unsafe act occurring throughout the duration of the project. Following on from site work, Sean
constructed the verification report compiling information from the field, the client and the contractor, in preparation for
submission to CL:AIRE.