As a cost engineer, it’s my job to determine efficient and effective ways of building infrastructure projects. At the moment I’m based in Reading, working on a project to electrify Brunel’s railway, running from London, Paddington to Wales. Because I have to keep on top of trends in our work patterns, I always know exactly what’s going on across the project so I really feel part of it.
I studied quantity surveying at university. I think of it as being like an accountant for the construction industry. It appealed to me because it’s based on problem solving and it enables those ‘lightbulb moments’ when you come up with a great solution that is going to benefit so many people. I’ve worked with Bechtel my whole career and my first job was on the project to build Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar.
I work to build new or improve existing transport infrastructure and then I get to use it myself as a commuter. I can truly empathize with the end user—because that is me! It’s fantastic to think that I’m having a role in improving the journeys of so many people.
My proudest moment was watching the first passenger flight land at Hamad International Airport and thinking, ‘I helped make this happen’. It was a massive milestone in a megaproject that was years in the making, and it really made me realize the amazing things we can achieve when we work together.
Bechtel’s a global engineering company, which gives me the opportunity to travel and immerse myself in different cultures when I take on new roles on our projects across the world. Because Bechtel employs people all over the globe, I often get to work with people from different countries. They expose me to new perspectives and I always learn new problem-solving techniques from them.
Don’t be put off working in transport because you assume it’s a male-dominated industry. The number of women in transport is growing, and I have not once felt at a disadvantage because of my gender. There’s a vast amount of knowledge and experience held by people who work in transport and my experience is that they love being able to pass it on to the next generation.
Once you get into the industry, there’s scope for your career to evolve in many different directions. It’s easily possible to have several different careers over the course of your life, all while working in transport.
We need to demonstrate to young people that transport careers are exciting and challenging irrespective of who you are or the skills you possess. The industry’s dynamic nature is a good fit for creatives, problem-solvers and future thinkers.