Women in Engineering

Nisrine Chartouny: Civil Engineer

What does your job involve?

I’m part of the team that’s responsible for all of the tunnels, shafts and portals on the central section of Crossrail. This portfolio of work comprises many different projects, and all of the project managers report into our team. It’s my job to ensure each project is managed effectively and that the project managers have all of the required resources. I also help to manage the interfaces between the different contracts.

What other roles have you had?

I’ve spent nine years in transport, starting as a field engineer on a highway in Texas, US, and then working as a deputy chief construction engineer based in London, remotely supporting construction of a major motorway in Romania. I then moved onto the Crossrail project, working at Farringdon Station, initially as project controls manager, then business manager, and, finally, project manager. 

Crossrail, London

How did you get into the transport industry?

I come from an engineering family—both my parents and one of my sisters are engineers. They didn’t try to get me into the industry but I ended up getting a civil engineering degree and a Masters in construction management. My career started in residential and high rise buildings and I got into transport by chance when an engineering role came up on a highway project in the US, where I studied toward my Masters.

What do you like about working in transport?

When you work in transport you have a big influence over whether people have a good day. You are often working on public infrastructure that’s essential in transporting people to and from work or wherever they need to go. When you do a good job, you make their lives better by making their journeys easier and faster. It’s nice being able to take part in something that affects entire cities. 

What are you most proud of?

My work at Farringdon Station in London. I was there from the outset of the work when buildings were being demolished to make way for the new rail development and by the time I left, I was project manager of the site. I’m proud of the strong positive relationships the team and I built with the local community, of the friends I made there, and of the efficiency in our work.

How do you balance your career with family life?

The transport industry is becoming increasingly flexible and supportive of diversity. I had a baby recently and when I returned to work my employer and the client we work with were understanding, and enabled me to work a four-day week. This enables me to have a fantastic career and to spend time with my family. 

How should we encourage young people to pursue a career in transport?

Collaborate with the various professional bodies, such as the national engineering and construction institutions, that are part of the transport industry. Encourage those institutions to publicise how their professions fit into transport and the wonderfully varied careers people can have in the industry. It would also make a positive difference if more transport project sites opened up visitor access to the public so young people could have the opportunity to see what kinds of roles the industry offers.