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Insights An early and rewarding career across two continents

Meet Mathilde Roubille

Mathilde describes herself as a 28 years old French woman living in Brisbane, Australia, who is passionate about innovation and digital technologies, especially the opportunity they enable to make data-driven decisions. Despite her young age, she has worked in two continents and has been involved in a variety of interesting and challenging projects. We spent five minutes with Mathilde to hear about the challenges she faced as a young professional and the guidance she received that helped shape her career. 
Image of Mathilde on a hike

An early and rewarding career across two continents

I joined Atkins, a member of the AtkinsRéalis group, back in December 2014 in Dubai as part of the graduate program. I started as a graduate structural engineer doing reinforced concrete and steel structure calculations for the Riyadh metro underground stations. The Graduate Program gave me great opportunities both technically – I had exposure to some major projects in the region (Riyadh metro, Doha metro, Dubai airport) and on softer skills – I did a 6 months secondment in Corporate development and Business change. The secondment was an eye-opener for me, it made me appreciate the diversity and breadth of expertise and roles available across the organisation. This is also where I discover digital engineering and decided to pursue it.

After graduating from the Graduate Program, I joined the Digital Engineering Systems team. This global team is part of Group IS and deals with product development, managing vendor relationships, implementing new solutions (e.g. Autodesk BIM 360) and supporting projects on their implementation of BIM collaborative workflows. Through this role, I had the opportunity to interact with colleagues across all regions, support major projects and get a feel for the different digital maturity and approach across countries. I was also part of the design transformation effort looking at how we can make our business more efficient and deliver more value to our clients.

I then decided that it was time for a change, and I wanted to experience a client environment. I relocated to Australia mid-2019 and got rapidly promoted to Digital Engineering lead. I am now helping increase the digital maturity of the business in country and identify new products / offering to embed digital best practices in client organisation. I am also deployed on the Inland Rail PMO for over a year now, helping them with system and Information Management.

Internally, I am involved in developing new product offering as part of the PMO, connecting the design data to the PM data to enable data-driven decision making and change the way PMO are delivered. It all starts with embedding the best practice of information management and enabling access to BIM4D (schedule optimisation) and following dimensions. I am part of a great team giving me the space to test, iterate and get feedback on the ideas that I am developing. We are all part of the journey. 

Under the direction of my Manager, Robbie Pretorious - Head of Services, I established a Master Information Deliverable Catalogue (MIDC) for projects to select the Information Deliverables required for a project at a specific stage. This is essential in order to ensure we control artefacts from the supply chain and apply our obligations in the different contracts.  The integration of Procurement, Processes and Information Deliverables is enabling the business to specify items the projects need to collect and store for handover purposes. 

Atkins has given me great opportunities to move around the business either by joining different teams or relocating to another country. Each of these moves have been beneficial to helping me develop new skills and ultimately progress in my career. I really enjoy this flexibility of knowing that if an opportunity arises somewhere else, I can engage into a conversation with my manager and that team to consider applying for it. That gives people an amazing opportunity to break siloes and explore something different.

A young professional in an experience-dominant world

I decided very early that I wanted to build bridges. It all started when I was about 12 years old on the drive to a family sky trip where we drove across a bridge and I heard this repetitive knocking sound. I then researched it and discovered it was due to the expansion joints allowing the bridge deck to expand and contract with different conditions like the weather. That blew my mind (I know, quite nerdy 😊) and triggered my interest for civil engineering. 

I never realised it was a male-dominant industry until I arrived in Engineering School and we were 15 women out of 235 students.

But to be honest, I can’t recall facing a challenge as a woman in the construction industry. I did face challenges due to my age though.

For me the biggest challenge was self-confidence, I believe it is sometimes difficult to grow your confidence as a junior team member you don’t feel senior enough to have good ideas. I was fortunate to meet several great role models (both man and woman) in the company that took time to mentor and coach me, helped me pushed my limits and gave me a shot in a project or a new role. I would encourage everyone to cultivate their working relationships and look for mentors or mentees, we have so much to learn from each other!

Diversity means equality of opportunities

To me, diversity means equality of opportunities with no regards for your gender, ethnicity, age, physical ability, sexual orientation, professional experience etc… 

Allowing a young engineer to experience, to learn, to grow and to lead is very important in my view. 

The managers and mentors I had, and still have, gave me the space to grow, they challenged me in a safe way to develop my potential and grow my capabilities. I am very grateful for their support in helping me develop along the way, as well as the trust and respect in our younger generation of talents. 

I see that we have an indispensable role to play in our Digital Future. Our openness and eagerness to learn and trial new technological tools to challenge the way that projects have always been delivered are an important foundation to the success of our Digital Future in my view. 

I’m grateful that I’m having the trust, encouragement, challenge and guidance from the experienced colleagues, which is hugely important to get us ready to lead the future. 

Jason Cooper, Director of PMO in Australia, said: “Mathilde was promoted to Digital Engineering Lead in Australia late in 2019, and I would like to see her drive this agenda within the APAC region leveraging the global smarts we have.” 

Mathilde’s manager, Robbie Pretorious, Head of Services, Australia sees a bright future for Mathilde. “She has the capability and social style to rise and should be considered for the Senior Leadership pipeline.”

“She is by far one of the most impressive people I worked with. Nothing is too big or too small to comprehend.  She makes sure she gathers the information and data and uses that to drive debates and recommendations. Her recommendations are almost always on target and I sometimes think ‘why have I not thought about that’”. Robbie will be supporting Mathilde’s road to success by giving her exposure to Management as soon as possible and investing in her development as a Leader in the future AtkinsRéalis .