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Insights Why go on secondment?

04 March 2020

"A fantastic opportunity to learn about the way the GDC operates, integrate with the team, and explore India" 

- Thomas Reardon, Graduate Structural Engineer

Between September and December 2019, I was lucky enough to be able to go on a three-month secondment to the Atkins Global Design Centre (GDC) as part of the graduate secondment scheme. This has been the highlight of my career so far and It was a fantastic opportunity to learn about the way the GDC operates, integrate with the team, and explore India.

The scheme works by providing rolling secondments for graduates across the business. For my secondment, seven graduates were chosen to go out to India with me and four others located in Bangalore and the other two in Gurgaon. There was also a number of people seconded from the UK on other projects including Hinkley Point and Sizewell C Nuclear power stations which meant there was always plenty going on!

For the duration of my time, I worked within the structures team on Aquatar: located in Qatar on the new Qetaifan Island development, this will be a new waterpark featuring a wide variety of waterslides, roller coaster, loop train and 75m + tall Icon Tower. The project is run from the Epsom office with multi-disciplinary support in the GDC.

row of people in shirts and lanyards smiling

When I first arrived, I was surprised by just how big the Aquatar team is with them taking up most of one floor in Safina Tower. However, it was easy to settle in as I was made to feel welcome in the team from the beginning and the office environment is very similar to that of the UK with a few notable differences. The main and best of these being that lunch is provided at 12:30 every day and would consist of a range of vegetarian curry, bread, rice and sugary pudding. Over the course of the secondment I was able to build up a good relationship with the team and in the end they even gifted me a traditional Indian outfit to wear on my last day! The other key advantage of this scheme is the opportunity to explore India.

As a country, India is so diverse and some of the most spectacular sights I have visited are easily accessible over a weekend. This meant that within 12 weeks I was able to visit an amazing range of places including Kerala, Pondicherry, Mysore, Goa, Udaipur, Jaipur, Agra and Delhi. There are so many highlights, but some stand out moments include seeing the demon Narakasura in Goa for Diwali, going on safari in Thekkady and of course the Taj Mahal.

image of a puppet

Overall, I would recommend everyone to try and get out to the GDC either through the secondment scheme or on a project. It was an eye-opening experience and great to be able to get to know the team personally. I feel that this connection will assist both sides on future projects and the more of us that can do this will help integrate the teams further.