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Thought Leaders

Thought Leaders

Thought Leader

Thought Leaders - Construction 2019

Q&A

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

WWL says

Meera Wagman is “an extraordinary, focused and client-oriented professional” as well as “an outstanding strategist and exceptional analyst” on delay matters.

Questions & Answers

Ms Wagman is managing director of Secretariat International and leads the north-east practice. She has over 20 years of experience in the construction industry, specialising in dispute resolution, delay and disruption analyses, scheduling, claims, cost analyses, project controls, and construction and project management. She has advised on a range of projects including oil refineries, airports, petrochemical plants, power/nuclear plants, medical facilities, distribution centres, government buildings, military projects, commercial and high-rise residential buildings. She has consulted on many high-profile project disputes, such as the Panama Canal and the Burj Khalifa.

Describe your career to date.

With a degree in civil engineering, I initially wanted to be hands-on in the field instead of behind a drafting table – to learn the “trade”. I spent five years working for a construction management firm onsite at several large-scale commercial projects in the north-east US. While being a part of building something tangible was exciting, I yearned to be challenged in different intellectual ways. When an opportunity arose in delay analysis consulting, I made the change and have loved it ever since. Since joining Secretariat, I was able to develop my expert career while also helping grow the firm in the role of COO for several years. My current focus is as a testifying expert on delay and disruption matters, which is my true passion.

What attracted you to a career as a testifying expert?

I often describe my career to people as the mid-point in a Venn diagram of three subjects: engineering, construction and law. Being able to stay connected to all of these areas – each important, interesting and rewarding – is what is most attractive to me. As my career in consulting developed, I knew that my ultimate goal was to become a testifying expert as, along with the technical nature of the work, I thoroughly enjoy synthesising, presenting and defending the information.

What qualities make for a successful testifying expert?

At the forefront, I believe a good expert must be objective and independent in considering the facts of the matter and executing the analysis. Moreover, I think that success stems from one’s ability to quickly grasp facts and concepts, and to be able to distil them into a clear and concise analysis, report and, ultimately, testimony. With regard to cross-examination, it is imperative to understand the opposing position in order to be equipped to think steps ahead and properly, professionally, and effectively address the issues.

What is it about your role that you enjoy most?

There are two distinct aspects to my answer on this. I enjoy learning about new projects and issues, which allows me to continually enhance my knowledge base and be able to apply strategic thinking skills in varied situations. I equally enjoy mentoring and developing up-and-coming team members, as seeing each of them grow and succeed is extremely rewarding.

How does your firm distinguish itself from the competition?

The people. I feel inspired and motivated each day to come to work and be surrounded by hard-working, intelligent, team-oriented people who take pride in the quality of work that they perform (and that the firm is founded in) and who, on top of all of that, are fun to work with! The culture that exists at Secretariat is something unique that we strive to promote and maintain as we continue to grow.

What developments have you seen with regard to non-traditional construction matters since you started practising?

I have seen clients seeking delay analyses on non-traditional construction matters more and more often. I view delay analysis as more of a science that can be applied to any type of work that has a performance-against-time component. Recently, I have been involved with shipbuilding and wreck salvage matters, which is an interesting departure from more traditional construction projects.

How do you see your practice developing over the next five years?

More recently, I have been involved with more and more disputes involving designers. I see this area of the industry growing as more complex projects are being pursued and design firms are getting pulled into increasingly larger-scaled disputes. I see my practice becoming more evenly spread across owners, contractors and designers, whereas in the past it has been predominately pertinent to the first two.

How has the market changed since you first started practising?

When I started it was long days of sorting through boxes of paper to gather and analyse information. This was trying at times, but fairly straightforward. Over the years, I have seen technological changes – both with regard to the projects I’ve been engaged in, and the way information is gathered and analyses pursued. As a result, I have found that I have had to adapt to new technologies in order to perform my job effectively and efficiently. This includes project advancements such as BIM, drones and automated construction, as well as learning new software skills for computerised data compilation. The days of bankers’ boxes in a storage closet seem to be (thankfully!) in the past.

Global Leader

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

Meera Wagman is "an extraordinary, focused and client-oriented professional" as well as "an outstanding strategist and exceptional analyst" on delay matters.

Biography

Ms Wagman is managing director of Secretariat International based in New York and leads the Northeast practice. Secretariat International specialises in providing independent expert advice on construction projects in the areas of programming/scheduling (delay and disruption), contract review, cost/damages, and productivity/inefficiency.

Ms Wagman has over 20 years of experience in the construction industry specialising in the areas of dispute resolution, delay and disruption analyses, scheduling, claims, cost analyses, project controls, as well as construction and project management. She has provided services to owners and contractors across a wide range of projects including oil refineries, airports, petrochemical plants, power/nuclear plants, medical facilities, distribution centres, government buildings, military projects, commercial and high-rise residential buildings. Ms Wagman has consulted on many complex construction projects throughout the world including high-profile disputes such as the Panama Canal and the Burj Khalifa. 

Ms Wagman has been appointed as an independent expert on matters of delay and disruption on complex construction disputes in arbitration, litigation, adjudication and formal settlement negotiations.

Prior to consulting, Ms Wagman worked as a project engineer for Gilbane Building Company working on various multi-million dollar projects in the US. Ms Wagman received a BS in civil engineering from Cornell University. Ms Wagman is also a fellow of the Project Management College of Scheduling.

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

Meera Wagman comes top of our research as one of the Global Elite Thought Leaders in quantum and delay. She is highly praised as an “extremely intelligent construction delay analysis expert”, and a “go-to” in the field.

Biography

Ms Wagman is managing director of Secretariat International based in New York and leads the Northeast practice. Secretariat International specialises in providing independent expert advice on construction projects in the areas of programming/scheduling (delay and disruption), contract review, cost/damages, and productivity/inefficiency.

Ms Wagman has over 20 years of experience in the construction industry specialising in the areas of dispute resolution, delay and disruption analyses, scheduling, claims, cost analyses, project controls, as well as construction and project management. She has provided services to owners and contractors across a wide range of projects including oil refineries, airports, petrochemical plants, power/nuclear plants, medical facilities, distribution centres, government buildings, military projects, commercial and high-rise residential buildings. Ms Wagman has consulted on many complex construction projects throughout the world including high-profile disputes such as the Panama Canal and the Burj Khalifa. 

Ms Wagman has been appointed as an independent expert on matters of delay and disruption on complex construction disputes in arbitration, litigation, adjudication and formal settlement negotiations.

Prior to consulting, Ms Wagman worked as a project engineer for Gilbane Building Company working on various multi-million dollar projects in the US. Ms Wagman received a BS in civil engineering from Cornell University. Ms Wagman is also a fellow of the Project Management College of Scheduling.

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