A new door opens
After graduating from Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh in 2013 with a first-class MEng in structural engineering with architecture, I worked as a pipeline engineer at EMAS AMC in Oslo for two and a half years. With the industry downturn, I was made redundant and the office was halved in one day. I have now worked with CALA for two years in July – just over a year in CALA Midlands and from October to now in CALA North.
When I was younger, I always wanted to be an architect so the house building industry had always appealed to me. CALA’s excellent reputation and commitment to quality made it a natural choice for progressing my career.
Whilst my title is assistant engineer, I feel that my most utilised skills are in communication and time management. With the number of people we talk to within and outwith the team, it is important to build up professional relationships in order to acquire a network of knowledge. With several developments being constructed at once, and new ones being introduced as well as older sites being completed, there is an art to keeping information flowing.
In my role, every day is different. The technical team generally serves all other departments within the company – from site inception through to completion. One day, I may be looking at utilities and constraints for a new site and the next day I’m liaising with Scottish Water regarding the vesting of completed sewers. We also manage external consultants, communicate with the local authorities and assist the site managers and sales teams with day-to-day queries. As a team, we try to get out on site as often as possible to see how the site is progressing and see if there is anything to re-evaluate in particular, risks and opportunities, in the current design.
The people I work with are my favourite part of the job. It is especially nice to have a group of professional women in the office, which is not always the norm in construction or oil and gas.
A prime example of this was our recent visit to an NHBC forum where my colleague and I were two of three women there among seventy or so men. It can sometimes feel intimidating. However, I have always enjoyed a challenge and showing that women are more than capable of fulfilling a technical role too.
Engineering has opened up more doors than I could have ever imagined. Every day is different and it is a role that is required all over the world. While design codes and standards differ, the basic principles remain the same. I also think it’s a career you can make your own – whether you want to get into a speciality and work alone or perform a project management type role with teams of people. I would like to think that, in the future, it is a career that could make a real difference to people in some way, shape or form.
Whilst redundancy was difficult, I wouldn’t change anything as I have gained so much experience and have met a variety of interesting people locally and from all over the world.