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Insights The pursuit of excellence as a woman working in transportation

Transport is a wide-reaching sector and encompasses everything related to how people and things travel, including road, rail, air, marine and logistics. Transport will of course evolve, and it’s difficult to be certain about what the industry will look like in a few decades time. However, it is imperative that we find a way to design a sustainable future for the industry, both in terms of carbon emissions and diversity.

Roles in this sector typically include civil engineers, architects, project managers and planners, however, as recently as 2018, less than 20% of the global transport workforce is represented by women. It is therefore clear that the industry needs to adapt to our changing environment to create a more level playing field and ensure there are truly equal opportunities for both men and women.

image of a team looking at notes

Encouraging more women into the transportation industry

Across the world, the transport industry is recovering from the pandemic, but it will also need a significant transformation to encourage more women to work in the industry. According to the United Nations, India produces the highest number of female graduates. However, they also state that women constitute only 14% of the total 280,000 scientists, engineers, and technologists in the country – all of which are subjects that are needed in the transportation sector and in particular, engineering roles.

In a bid to empower girls and women to work in the industry, transit data experts Ito World launched a campaign, #ItoWomen, to draw attention to equality and inclusion across the technology and transport industries. They are championing diversity and inclusion across the industry by encouraging women to share their stories of working in the technology and transport industries. By doing so, it is hoped that it will influence positive change and ensure there are truly equal opportunities in the transport sector globally.

Pursuing excellence as a woman working in design transformation

At Atkins, a member of the AtkinsRéalis Group, our colleague Smita Sawdadkar has her own inspirational story to share. Smita joined Atkins India in 2013 following her return from the UK, where she had gained expertise working in multiple roles, including highways design, site supervision, quality, commercial and project management. It was in the UK that Smita gained experience working on projects for Wiltshire and Hampshire Councils, in addition to complex schemes such as the A14 Cambridge to Huntington. In all her endeavours, Smita ensures that projects are delivered with the right technical quality to enable repeat business.

Today, a Chartered Civil Engineer of the ICE (CEng MICE), and recently appointed as Delivery Head of Design Transformation in March 2021, Smita’s role has evolved into much more. She is now accountable for transforming project deliveries through the right processes, technology and most importantly through passionate, innovative, and visionary people. Smita and her team are making significant strides in developing a project environment mobilization service (PEMS), design reuse, design automation, and global design training services.

Earlier this year, Smita won the International Inspiration Award at the 2021 Amazon Everywoman in Transport & Logistics Awards; one of 16 women working in the transport and logistics sector to be recognised for their positive contributions to the industry. She has certainly challenged stereotypes by pushing boundaries in the industry, and she has accomplished her success whilst balancing family life as a mother of two children.

How can you make an impact like Smita?

When asked how she focuses on excellence, she says, ‘In my experience, engineering projects become successful only when each team member’s strength is focused towards excellent project delivery. So, I help them identify their unique strengths and work around it to deliver their best, especially when working on projects with a varied scope.’ Being able to motivate a team and encourage them to pursue their strengths is a fundamental management skill that is essential in today’s business landscape.

The transport sector is one of the largest contributors to carbon dioxide emissions, and India has a lot of progress to make. As a result, there is a huge opportunity for more bright and innovative female engineers like Smita to make a sustainable impact in the transportation industry and achieve the goals of the Decarbonising Transport Initiative.

Join AtkinsRéalis and be part of our diverse future

AtkinsRéalis is committed to equality, diversity, and inclusion, and we believe our diversity is a key strength in helping us to understand and meet client needs worldwide. We’re always looking to add to our diverse and collaborative pool of talent, creating opportunities for innovative engineers, architects, project managers and more.

If you want to make an impact working in the transport industry in India, in a company where everyone can be their true self, we may have a role for you. Browse our available engineering opportunities today and reach your full potential.