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Contracts & Insurance—Training Work Assignment

Before Manson vessels are launched to a project site and teams assembled nationwide to build marine infrastructure, Manson’s Contracts & Insurance (C&I) Department works closely with Manson personnel, involved from the early phases of contract bidding all the way through project completion. “Contracts are the cornerstone of any business transaction,” says Kristi-Lyn Levesque, Manson contracts manager. This is evident from the increase of construction contracts in the marine construction industry over the years.

Much like any department at Manson, C&I is made up of a group of skilled individuals who support Manson personnel in a variety of ways, including identifying contractual risks at bid time, assisting equipment personnel with master agreements and equipment purchase and sale agreements, assisting operations teams with contract buyout and other standard contracts, and providing assembled contract templates for teams to use in the field.

However, the C&I team and project engineers admittedly manage and assess things differently. “Engineers and attorneys don’t necessarily think alike,” says Kristi-Lyn. While C&I and project teams operate on different terms and may have different priorities, the end goal is essentially the same: get the job done, safely and on-time.

Determined to proactively provide Manson personnel with the best possible resources and educational tools to improve communications between departments, Mike Warwick—vice president and chief civil engineer – dredging, and Kyle Dickens—Gulf and East Coast dredging engineering manager, expanded the Training Work Assignment program (TWA) to include a C&I rotation in 2018 with help from Kristi-Lyn as well as Laurie Pinard, vice president and general counsel.

“A few years ago, Mike Warwick visited the Seattle office and asked if there was an opportunity for field engineers to go through a rotation through C&I,” Laurie recalls. “He wanted engineers to understand how C&I plays a part in supporting project teams and engineers on projects.”

For over 15 years, TWAs have played an integral role in transitioning engineers into project management roles. “The whole purpose of this TWA program is to produce a well-rounded project manager,” Mike explains. “Someone who has worked in every department in the company and knows how to do almost anything, or, more importantly – who to call when they need help.” For instance, the C&I rotation of the TWA program takes engineers from the field and assigns them to a 90-day rotation within the department.

After receiving approval for the new program, Kristi-Lyn created a TWA lesson plan covering a variety of interdepartmental practices. “The goal of the program is to teach young engineers basic contract principles so they can effectively administer and manage contracts on any project, while working to minimize risk to Manson,” Kristi-Lyn explains. “I see the program as an opportunity to work with engineers to teach them concepts that will set them up for success in their careers.”

During the 90-day rotation, candidates are taught to understand the three areas of support C&I focuses its efforts on: (1) supporting the estimating teams by offering contract review and risk analysis of owner contracts at bid time, (2) assisting project teams with contract buyout, standard contracts, and any claims that may arise over the course of the project, and (3) assisting the equipment department and other Manson stakeholders by preparing and maintaining a library of “Master Agreements” used for call-out services. After the TWA candidate understands the role of C&I, basic contracting principles and Manson’s contracting processes, they are tasked with assignments that include assisting active project teams, providing QC reviews of buyout contracts, and creating new FAQs. “Engineers review subcontracts, PSAs, and PMPOs for project teams,” Laurie explains. “They learn things like reading and implementing existing master agreements, so it makes it easier for people to do things like hire companies for vessel repair, safety services, training, and everything else.”

Candidates in the program are chosen by area managers from both construction and dredging operations. “This program shows that the C&I Department really has the best interest of the company,” says Hannah Schorr, a field engineer who has completed a C&I rotation. “It was very eye-opening to see how insurance and certain legal documents play out and the amount of input they have on projects. The program not only provides engineers with tools that will benefit them on future projects, but it also allows them to build skills to eventually transition into leadership roles.”

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