LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT IN ENGINEERING
’m often asked why I chose to be an engineer? Simple response – I didn’t! August 1980, I was standing in Admissions at Strathclyde University during ‘clearing’ and desperate to get into any degree course so I didn’t have to go back to school! 36 years later I would be asked to join the Royal Academy of Engineers as one of only 5 female Fellows in Scotland and receive the honour from HRH Prince Philip. Who knew? Thinking back to the 1980’s, it was all shoulder pads, blue eyeshadow and DALLAS was the must-watch TV soap; 30 years on I’m spending half of my time in Dallas, as a Senior Vice President for Jacobs, Forbes Most Admired Engineering Company. Strathclyde granted me a place to study Engineering Geology, one of two females in a class of 16. Despite being told I’d probably fail first year (don’t you love those motivational speeches), I thrived and graduated BSc with
business development. I thoroughly enjoyed working in different market sectors such as Water, Infrastructure and Nuclear and can boast that I led the sale of the largest Capital Investment Partnership Program in the UK Water industry in 2007. It was a huge and rewarding learning curve, fantastic memories of our team comradery, delivering a winning solution and delighting the Client. Throughout my career I have been blessed with wonderful colleagues. Collaborating with each other in a respectful and thoughtful manner is the key to profitable growth for any company. I always maintain that happy motivated people achieve great things – look after the people and they look after the business. Who doesn’t want to work in an environment where everyone belongs and can thrive? Though not always the case, I recall with a smile a Client’s project manager who said he “was not going to listen to a wee slip of a lass from north of the border”. Idiot!
“Promotion to Senior Vice President in Jacobs in 2016 was beyond my aspirations. Being selected for a global role; 51 countries and 75,000 employees, was a long way from where my career began. ” honours, going onto complete a MPhil in Civil Engineering. My area of expertise was hard rock mining and tunnels. Over the years I spent a lot time on site, I loved it, except when it was freezing and there were no toilets close by. Thank you to the lady in the Leadhills Village, who whilst we were drilling a borehole in her garden, let me use her toilet and gave me a hot cup of tea! Each time I stepped out to have my babies, I worked flexibly and I learned quickly how to integrate work and family life. After my second baby I had post-natal depression and for a while I thought my life had stopped. With support, surprising even myself, I found a way through. Ten years later I was prepared when it happened again after the birth of my third daughter. 15 years ago, I changed my career path within Jacobs and moved into
Promotion to Senior Vice President in Jacobs in 2016 was beyond my aspirations. Being selected for a global role; 51 countries and 75,000 employees, was a long way from where my career began. I have accountability for health, safety, environment, sustainability, security, resilience, quality and procurement and it involves significant travel. Highlights so far have been a trip to the Gobi Desert in Mongolia, behind the scenes access to the Capitol building in Washington D.C. and to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center where Jacobs is assembling the next Mars manned space vehicle. It is a wonderful time to be an engineer, so many world challenges, ripe for innovators, and improvement. My role - to offer my experience unconditionally by way of inspiration, through STEM, maternity mentoring, mental health awareness or just taking the time to care. Exciting times.
THE EUROPEAN WOMEN IN CONSTRUCTION & ENGINEERING AWARDS >> MAY 2019
2019 WICE awards and summit summary.