Dominic Collett - My main strength comes from the support of the mentors and teams that I have worked together with over the years


Principal and Market Segment Leader: Urban Drainage and Sanitation, Royal HaskoningDHV

DOMINIC COLLETT is a professional engineer whose career has been driven by the desire to participate in initiatives that enhance society.

Collett matriculated from Beachwood High School in Durban North, followed by a series of qualifications at the then Technikon Natal (now DUT), which led to a Bachelor's Degree in Technology in Civil Engineering.

He says that during his 18 years as a professional engineer he has been fortunate to have strong mentors. Collett said, "They guided and assisted me during difficult career decisions and also kept emphasizing the importance of getting involved with voluntary organisations that enhance society."

Engineers have the ability for problem solving and are invaluable in assisting organisations in delivering on their mandates. He added that there is seldom a 'cut and paste' scenario to solve challenges, which makes life 'interesting'.

Consequently, in the early years of his career, Collett became a member of the Young Professionals Forum as well as the Institute of Engineering, which he enjoyed. In the spirit of giving back to the community, he has been involved with the iLembe Chamber of Commerce Tourism and Industry from its inception and currently sits on its Board. He also served as President for two terms. He chairs the KwaZulu-Natal Business Chambers Council (KBCC) and represents this organisation on the KZN Economic Council.

Collett worked through his training years for Bradford Conning and Partners (BCP) and after a short stint of two years with BKS returned to BCP Engineers where, at 35 years old, he was invited to join the Board of Directors.

BCP than merged with SSI now Royal HaskoningDHV. He says that his main strengths came from the support of the mentors and the teams that he has worked together with on many successful and exciting projects. Collett commented that a noteworthy project was supervising the initial Tongaat Hulett La Lucia Ridge design and development in 1991. He says that seeing the sugar cane fields evolve and the infrastructure taking shape was very fulfilling.

Collett says, "Time, cost and people are the key inputs to successful projects. I enjoy motivating a team to work efficiently. Without motivated teams, it is impossible to achieve success and I would think my strength lies in being able to motivate people and allow them to achieve their personal goals. When team members feel comfortable approaching you with difficult issues, these can be resolved at an early stage before they become a crisis." He added that his leadership style is that of respect and honesty.

As a project director, the challenge is always to provide the engineering services required with an often limited budget to have a maximum impact for the community.

"It is important to look at the big picture, which guides conversations and allows us to slow down and assess what is required before attending to the details. On top of budget constraints we now find ourselves in a position where we have limited water and energy resources. The challenge is to design projects in a way that takes advantage of the available resources but not in a manner that is detrimental to the environment and other stakeholders," says Collett.

He added that he obtains his greatest joy in delivering cutting edge technology to engineering solutions. "I have been fortunate to have private sector clients that have the same vision and a highlight of my career has been that I have been able to have work with many of these forward thinking clients that value development which is different and innovative."

Collett's passion for development is in keeping with Royal HaskoningDHV's ethos, which is to enhance society together through new technologies, engineering innovation and human spirit.

He says, "Royal HaskoningDHV are responding to four global trends that the world is addressing and the opportunities these changes bring, to create an enduring future for society and our planet." These trends include:
  • Urban: Creating cities of the future, which provide a happy and healthy environment for all
  • Water: Ensuring clean water and effective sanitation is available to all and protecting people from flood and drought
  • Transport: Moving people and goods all around the world, in a cleaner and safer way
  • Industrial: Transforming the use of technology and resources, allowing industry to contribute to the wellbeing of people and the environment
One of the advantages of working for a global company is that it opens up opportunities to work on large projects in and outside South Africa. Each country have their own unique environments but still have the same global concerns of urbanisation, water supply, transport and industrial development. "Although the South African economy is in recession, our clients are still developing high quality projects. The focus, however, is even more critical in terms of cost effective design, says Collett.

A current project that is giving him much enjoyment is the Blythedale Coastal Resort development, which embraces the global trends. Collett and his team are able to offer a number of solutions to the resource limitations that the homeowners would have faced using gas reticulation, a desalination plant, solar energy, and grey water recycling among other innovations.

Collett says, "I enjoy the support of a wonderful family." He has been married for 18 years and has two teenage sons. In his free time, he plays the Double Bass in the Durban City Orchestra and recently returned to sailing a Flying Fifteen.

He concluded by saying that you have to push yourself to make a difference and add value to society.

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