Introducing Darren Berrill

Today we’re delighted to be shining the staff spotlight directly into the slightly startled eyes of our newest team member - Senior Technical Manager, Darren Berrill.

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Darren has barely taken a seat in our newest construction materials testing hub in Daventry before we pounce, wanting to know what brings the industry’s King of Concrete to Igne, and whether the grave digging rumours are true.

Welcome!  Is it true you used to dig graves for a living?

[Laughing] Hello!  Well, yes, but that was a long time before I started in the construction materials testing industry.  The two roles aren’t related!  Basically, I used to work for the local authority and part of the role was recreation and amenities which meant we had to look after the cemetery.  As part of that, we had to dig graves and back then it was a manual job, there was no machinery.  We had to finish each one in a single day, regardless of the ground conditions.  I did that for four years, by the way!

You must have had a very strong back!  How did you go from that to where you are now?  Tell us about your career and the transition to construction materials.

After the recession hit in 1988/89 and I found myself looking for a new role, a friend of mine told me there was a position at his company for a cube tester. 

Testing cubes? 

Exactly!  In layman’s terms, you make cubes out of ready-mix concrete and strength test them to ensure the concrete complies with required regulations.  That was the very beginning of my long career to date in testing construction materials to ensure they are fit for purpose, to keep the industry operating to the right safety standards.

I fell in love with the industry and have spent the intervening years progressing my way through, advancing with education and experience, and enjoying every single aspect of the job.

What is it about construction materials testing that you really love?

It just seemed to fit right for me; in part it's all the different technical aspects of the industry as well as all the people you meet and get to work with.  For example, I’ve known Pete [Peter Godfrey, Director of Testing at Igne] for 17 years.  You meet and make friends, sometimes for life. 

Pete was one of my field technicians and I was his lab manager.  Obviously, he’s progressed and done very well for himself, and so when the opportunity to work with him again came up at Igne, I jumped at the chance.

Apart from reconnecting with Pete, what was it about the opportunity as Senior Technical Manager that appealed to you?

It was evident this would be a pivotal role to help Igne’s already excellent testing department build and grow in terms of the portfolio of services we offer, and in terms of the client base we support.  I wanted to contribute to that vision and believe this role is right for me right now.

I bring decades of experience, the highest standards of best practice, and people know they can rely on me and those I work with. 

What's your personal ambition for the role?  

I want to build up our team and expand our capabilities piece by piece, deliberately and professionally.  This is not a rush job, and it comes down to employing the right people who want to be a part of our team and grow with us. 

My ambition is underpinned by my belief in the power of collaboration and effective team working.  I choose to lead by example and so just because I am a technical manager, that doesn't mean to say I cannot go and get my hands dirty the same as everybody else.

I really want to ensure there is this ethic within our team, as it builds, that we all work together, and we all support each other.  A personal dislike is when you hear someone saying: ‘that’s not my job.’  The job is everybody's job; we work together to deliver excellence for the client.

How do you build such a collaborative and successful team? 

I look after people and ensure the company looks after them too.  What Igne is building, and what I’ll be contributing to, is a very different vision than others in our industry have.  We are consciously determined to be different; we will train, develop, nurture and celebrate our colleagues. 

I've been successful wherever I've worked - but that's only because of the team around me.  The team and the technicians we’ll bring onboard and along at Igne will know how valued and valuable they are.

Can you tell us a career highlight? 

It’s so difficult to talk about myself!

[Enter Peter Godfrey stage right] “Darren’s worked on some of the largest infrastructure projects in the UK and has given technical advice to consultants and engineers throughout those projects.  There is nothing to do with construction materials testing that Darren doesn’t know.”  [Thank you Pete!] 

Darren- I suppose I would count a recent, and indeed ongoing job as a very interesting one.  At my last company we were overseeing the concrete compliance of a significant national railway infrastructure project where we had to supply technicians for every single piling rig.  We had multiple technicians on the ground just monitoring the concrete.  It required a lot of resourcing and organisation.

Finally, who are you when you’re not at Igne! 

I’m a dad to two daughters and two sons, I also have two grandchildren aged 10 and seven.  I’m a very sociable person with a wide friendship group and enjoy all things sport…more the watching than the doing these days.

Football is my first love, but rugby comes a close second.  The Six Nations was great…

We won’t mention my home nation of Wales! 

You were unlucky, and a wooden spoon is very useful!  [Gracious answer – the truth is we were rubbish]

You've shared a gorgeous picture of your grandchildren, do you see them often? 

Well, they live in Australia.  But I see them every single year and was with them in January.  Both my daughters are in Australia actually, but one is in Perth and one is Tasmania, so they don’t make it easy for me!  I went through 11 time zones to get to Tasmania.  But I do love Australia, it’s a brilliant country to raise children and there are a lot of opportunities out there.  I have a feeling my youngest son, who’s about to graduate, may consider going Down Under too!

Thank you, Darren, we are extremely privileged to have you with us at Igne, and can’t wait to meet the members of the team you’re building up.

Let’s give the final word to Darren’s protégé (and now line manager!) Peter Godfrey.  Tell us why you’re so happy to have won Darren over to Igne: 

Darren mentioned earlier that to be successful you have to have the right team with you, this is my philosophy exactly.  I’ve worked with some amazing construction materials professionals over the years and Darren is definitely up their with the best (I can’t say ‘the best’ because he’s already got a big head).

Igne as a business is investing in offices, equipment, vehicles, digital transformation and more - but fundamentally, you need good people, which is why professionals like Darren and Ryan Hobson at our new hub in Wombwell should give our clients exceptional confidence in our service delivery and technical understanding.  We are investing in the right people to deliver exceptional service.

Personally, I’m very excited to see two new locations open so far this year.  With the managers and technicians we already have in place and some familiar faces joining in the very near future, the horizon looks extremely positive for Igne.  With Darren, I’m very pleased to be part of the team.