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Insights How maternity leave helped Olga grow her engineering career

As part of our #PeopleDriveResults campaign, this week we have caught up with Olga from the UK.
image of Olga smiling
Can you tell us a little bit about your professional background?

I studied chemical engineering at Loughborough University in the UK; then came to Atkins after that and became a Chartered Engineer in 2019. 

What inspired you to become an engineer? 

I wanted to make a notable and positive change to the world.. 

What is the coolest thing you are working on?

The UK Small Modular Reactor (SMR) project, as part of the Radiological Waste Team. We’re working on designing a new type of reactor in the UK; although once approved the plans are to roll it out around the world. It is one of the few SMRs currently planned in the nuclear market and its size and other design aspects make it a very exciting and innovative project. The nuclear sector tends to be quite conservative, so it is a rare chance to make an impact on early design.

What do you think has had the biggest impact on your career development to date?

Pregnancy, but in a positive sense. Getting pregnant really motivated me to complete my chartership and re-evaluate where my career was heading. I more or less had a blank slate when coming back from maternity leave, so I could be a lot more adventurous about choosing my opportunities; this broadened my experience and I ended up really enjoying things I would not have thought to try before. The life changes also made time a lot more precious, making me a heck of a lot more efficient. All this built up to me applying for a role I was sure I wouldn’t get, but somehow ended up getting. 

What is the best advice you were ever given? Who was it from? 

Not particularly advice, but during one of the career events organized by the Young Generation Network (YGN), a high-level civil servant very honestly said she pursued projects she liked and didn’t have a grand master plan to end up where she did.  It stopped making me feel so bad about not really having the classic 5-year plan, but rather allowed me to embrace opportunities as they presented themselves. I think it helped me progress a lot faster!

What is your favorite quote and why?

“Don’t ask, don’t get.” The worst outcome will be an awkward conversation followed by a ‘’no’’, but at least there is no regret, and as a bonus you might even get some constructive feedback. 

Tell us one fun fact about yourself.

I never formally completed primary school…