Women in Engineering

Lead project controls planner

What does your job involve?

I plan and forecast the construction schedules for our infrastructure projects. This involves working with my colleagues in the construction team and subject matter experts to identify challenging areas and determine how we can overcome them. I also help to estimate how long new projects will take to build. This information is included in commercial proposals when we bid for work. 

How long have you been in transport?

About 15 years. Before this role, I worked on Bechtel’s Crossrail project in London as lead planner for the engineering work to construct the Western tunnels, which run underground from Royal Oak Portal to Farringdon. It was a challenging role because there are so many neighbouring businesses, organisations, residents and other construction projects and we had to liaise with them and plan around their activities. 

How did you get into the transport industry?

My first role was executive assistant to a manager at Tube Lines, a company that maintains and upgrades London’s Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly Underground lines. I enjoyed the construction side of transport and wanted to make a career of it so I gained training while on the job, and mentoring, and I became a field engineer. When I joined Bechtel, I underwent more training and expanded into the planning and costing fields. 

What do you like about working in transport?

Transport networks are used and relied on by millions of people. It’s fantastic helping to build or upgrade infrastructure that is really going to make a positive difference in so many people’s lives by connecting them to new destinations and reducing their journey times. Being part of new megaprojects like Crossrail is exciting because the positive legacy they leave can last a century or soand you know you were part of it. 

What are you most proud of?

The completion of Crossrail’s first tunnel, which runs from Royal Oak Portal to Farringdon Station. We drove Crossrail’s first tunnel boring machine all the way under the centre of London and ensured it reached its destination right on schedule. As the lead planner, I found it particularly challenging because there were a lot of design changes resulting in the work programme being re-sequenced. Also, the tunnel boring machine’s journey was tracked and published online in real time for the public to see. It was essential that our work was completed on time. 

Crossrail, London

What would your advice be to someone interested in your role?

Find someone in the industry that can inspire and mentor you. You need to enjoy crunching data and working with spreadsheets, but it’s not all office work. Social skills are important too because you need to liaise with all of the different people who are likely to be affected by your schedules and get their input. 

What do you think is the best thing about a career in transport?

In transport, no two days are the same. The industry is constantly changing, which means there is always a wide range of new opportunities for people working in the sector. 

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

Demonstrate to them the wide range of careers that transport offers, and that you don’t need to be an engineer to work in the industry—I have a degree in philosophy and media. Transport offers plenty of choices regardless of your educational background and interests.