Derek Hamilton IEng MIMechE

Derek Hamilton is a Track Maintenance Engineer with Network Rail.

Derek Hamilton EngTech IEng MIMechEWhat is your current role?

I head up the Track Maintenance function for my area in Network Rail, I am the Accountable Engineer for the track and off-track assets. I lead a team of four direct reports who each manage their own individual teams.

My key responsibility is applying my engineering and technical knowledge to get the best performance out of the asset so the train operating companies can keep to their timetable.

I produce proposals for areas of track that require renewal and adopt longer term strategies based on this.

I have to comply with standards for both the inspection of assets and the execution of any maintenance required.

Budget management and control as well as working on annual maintenance plans and volumes is another important part of my role. 

Outline your career so far. Have you worked on any unusual or high profile projects? ?

After graduation I started work with Network Rail as a labourer, learning my trade from the bottom up. I continued to progress by undertaking operational and technical roles in the company.

In 2011, I moved to an engineering position of Assistant Track Maintenance Engineer, in 2016 I was promoted to my current role.

You were registered as an EngTech (Engineering Technician) before becoming an IEng (Incorporated Engineer)?  Describe your experience of becoming an EngTech

I wanted to expand my horizons and become professionally registered. The EngTech registration was my starting point from which I could progress further once I was ready.

What encouraged your registration as an IEng?

EngTech registration was the first step in my professional registration journey. IEng then seemed the logical second step.

I felt I had the required skill set and I received encouragement and support from my colleagues who could mentor me and sponsor my application. Network Rail are also committed to investing in staff who wish to become professional engineers.

The Institution advised me that my educational background, would merit an IEng application. Whilst it was always in my mind to progress, I knew I could get on with it quickly.

Describe how you became an IEng.

Becoming a Track Maintenance Engineer and the whole application process has really opened my eyes – I now consider myself to be a professional and expert in my field.

The information on the Institution website and support from existing Chartered Engineers has helped me to understand the application process. I realised my day to day engineering role and the decisions that I was making could be used in my application, additional reading gave me a more insightful look at the job I was doing and the responsibilities that I had. My degree meant that I had already met the education requirements for IEng.

The challenge was translating my real life experience and applying it in my application form.  

Did anything surprise you about the experience?

The interview stage was daunting initially, however it was conducted in a very friendly manner. As strange as it may sound, I have never wanted an interview to go as well as my IEng one. Thankfully, I gave a good enough account of myself.

What advice would you give someone considering professional registration as an IEng? 

Do it!

There is a process to follow and there is work to do, but the rewards mean so much more to you as an individual than just letters after your name. The application process alone truly changed my way of thinking and outlook and gave me the confidence to do the right thing in my current role. 

How has becoming an IEng benefited your career?

Time will tell, but my outlook has changed. I have much more confidence in making tough decisions and communicating at all levels of the business. Being professionally recognised and keeping up with CPD mean that I can network more, expand my knowledge in an interesting environment and always be on my toes to continuously develop myself.

How does your employer benefit from you being an IEng?

I think in a more objective way now and take a much more holistic view of my role and how I can interact with other railway disciplines.

What are your future career goals?

I’d like to develop further with my current employer, there is certainly scope for more senior positions. In the future I’d like a role that encompasses all disciplines within my current function. As a developing leader, the responsibility of a senior leadership role is a long term goal. I would also like to progress to Chartered Engineer status. 

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