Learning from the best at the TfL Grad Awards

For several years now, Matchtech has sponsored the TfL Graduate Awards, an event that recognises the successes of Transport for London’s (TfL) Graduate Engineers on the TfL Civil Engineering Training Scheme and their ability to write excellent and interesting reports. Huge congratulations go to this year’s winners Raphael Lorgere (1st place), Charlie Naylor (2nd place), Kristian Ciupa (3rd place) and to Avantika Raj, for winning the Best First Year Report award, who have all shown incredible promise within their Development Reports during their training placement at TfL.

The TfL Graduate Awards are a great celebration of young engineering talent. The competition encourages the development of excellence in report writing and applicants are judged on the basis of their understanding of issues encountered, personal involvement, lessons learned and readability of the report. Crucially, the reports help prepare the graduates to achieve chartered status which will enhance their career progression and set them up for a successful career in engineering.

Celebrating an inspirational leader

In the past five years, TfL graduates have had a 100% pass rate in achieving chartered status and this is in part due to the dedication and contribution of the TfL Graduate Awards’ primary organiser, Martin Roach, who is also Lead Engineer Construction within the London Underground Construction Engineering Team. Martin has also led the TfL Civil Engineering Graduate Scheme for many years now; driving the success of the scheme and seeing it achieve its gold-star status within the industry.

This year’s awards evening was a special one. It also acted as an ode to Martin Roach, who has been the lead in implementing and maintaining these awards; acting as a judge and making all the necessary arrangements, including working with Matchtech to organise the evening.

This year sees his retirement, and at the awards night last night, it was clear to see how much he is appreciated and respected for the work he has done, not only for the Graduate Awards, but for what he has achieved in his (almost) 39 years of service at London Underground/TfL. His colleagues wanted to send him off in style and told us about countless accomplishments he’s achieved over his career including his involvement in the strengthening of the Brunel Thames Tunnel (1995-97), his contribution to the graduate training scheme and becoming a Fellow of the ICE (October 2008).

Ahead of his retirement, and to recognise his contribution to the Graduate Awards, the TfL Graduate Awards will become the Martin Roach Development Report Writing Awards. Here’s what Martin’s colleague Nick Webb, Principal Engineer – TfL, had to say about him:

“His role with the TfL Graduate Scheme and involvement with the ICE is recognised throughout TfL and the success achieved by our engineers in achieving chartered status is testament to his dedication to the Civil Engineering profession.
His mentoring skills are second to none and this extends to non-grads within the business and a large number of others he has successfully helped through their Professional review across a number of different routes. He will be sorely missed but we wish him all the best for his retirement.”

Transferring knowledge is key for the future engineering workforce

The ageing workforce is seen as a threat to the growth of the rail sector by 27% of engineering professionals who work within it (Matchtech Voice of the Workforce report 2017). With so many engineers nearing retirement age and not enough younger people choosing a career in engineering, the skills gap is widening all the time and there is a real fear that a lot of vital knowledge will be lost in the process. However, one saving grace is companies like TfL and people like Martin who are actively inspiring the future workforce and sharing knowledge with the younger generation of engineers. It is this transfer of knowledge from older to younger employees that is seen as the most effective strategy in dealing with the ageing workforce, according to our report which is based on the views of more than 2,500 engineering professionals around the world.

Young people entering the engineering industry can learn a lot from an engineer like Martin. He in fact joined TfL on 18 September 1978 on a Graduate Training Scheme after graduating from Swansea with a BSc Honours Degree in Civil Engineering. With an unprecedented passion for his role at TfL he has had a very successful career. Here’s how he went from a Graduate up to the Lead Engineer Construction:

After completing the training scheme undertaking various placements he spent two years in the design office before moving on to various site roles over the next 14 years, supervising construction works and managing contracts, progressing to Resident Engineer status within London Underground (LU).

From 1997 onwards, Martin was mainly head-office based going through the ranks as a Senior Resident Engineer overseeing site teams and managing various civil engineering contracts. Over the years he progressed within LU/TfL, including holding positions as Construction Manager, Civils Portfolio Manager, Senior Resident Engineer, Principal Engineer Construction right up to his current role as a Lead Engineer Construction.

Grahame Carter, Managing Director, Matchtech, comments on Martin’s career at TfL:

“Martin’s story is proof that engineering is a career for life and if you work hard, you can be rewarded with great career progression opportunities. The number of different roles he has undertaken shows the variety on offer to engineers, whether they prefer more hands-on work or see themselves within a management role.
In a sector where more than a quarter recognise the ageing workforce as a major threat to future growth, as found in Matchtech’s Voice of the Workforce report, it’s great to hear that people like Martin are supporting the future pipeline of talent and facilitating the necessary transfer of knowledge to younger engineers.”

Look out for our interviews with the three winners soon to hear why their reports were worthy of the award and what excites them about working in engineering.


The event raised £280 for Friends of PICU, as sponsored by Brookson.

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