Peers and clients say:
"Meera is at the top of her craft in terms of skillset and intelligence"
"Meera is among the elite in schedule delay analysis"
"I would not hesitate to recommend her"
Ms. Wagman is managing director of Secretariat and has over 20 years of experience in the construction industry focused in the areas of dispute resolution, delay and disruption analyses, project advisory, and scheduling. She has provided independent expert services to owners, contractors, and designers on complex construction disputes across all sectors including heavy civil, oil and gas, infrastructure and transportation, power and energy, vertical construction, and marine salvage. Ms. Wagman has a BS in civil engineering from Cornell University.
What attracted you to a career as a construction expert?
I like to 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 – makes this the perfect career for me. One of the aspects I enjoy most is the technical nature of the work. Each project is different with unique and sometimes obscure issues. Learning about these issues provides for an ongoing stream of education and refinement of my knowledge base.
Looking back over your career, what is the most interesting arbitration you have been a part of?
I have been lucky in the breadth of projects I have been involved with through the years and around the world. A recent arbitration that I was a part of and that was extremely interesting for me involved a delay analysis for marine salvage work. As this was not in the traditional construction realm of projects that I work on, I found it uniquely challenging and rewarding.
What do you enjoy most about working in your current role as construction expert?
Whether working in a project advisory or dispute resolution role, I am always motivated and inspired when looking at and assessing risk. I appreciate the way it flexes my mind in a different manner than when undertaking more straight-forward analysis tasks. And as said above, I thoroughly enjoy being exposed to so many different types of projects and issues. Each experience feeds into the next in some way even if the issues are completely different.
What makes Secretariat stand out from its competitors in the market?
Secretariat was founded with a discrete focus on construction and specifically delay and quantum analyses. Having a group of highly regarded experts who all specialise in this rather niche industry allows for collaboration and knowledge sharing which brings decades of experience and talent to the table.
How is technology changing the way delay and disruption disputes are conducted?
Technological advancements have helped with resolving disputes in that accurate project information can be assessed faster, which in turn allows parties to identify and evaluate issues in real time (or at least closer to it). The faster problems are identified, the more opportunities there are for the parties to mitigate and/or resolve them.
In what ways does your experience as a project engineer enhance your practice as an expert?
Early in my career, I gained a lot of practical experience working on site, developing and overseeing project controls – scheduling, job cost reports, change orders, RFIs, etc. With that experience, along with the different types of projects I was fortunate to work on, I feel that I came away with a deep understanding of the necessity and importance of project controls and its role in bringing in a project on time and within budget. I believe that having a foundation in the logistics of a project bolsters my role as a construction expert in working through the significant amount of project documentation that is created on a project. It helps me seek the right facts through a complicated maze.
What advice would you give to practitioners just starting out and hoping to one day be in your position?
Take pride and ownership in your work. Being an expert in your field is your responsibility – and your name. Significant decisions will be based upon your analysis. It is therefore critical that experts are able to present the facts clearly, effectively and independently.