Open and close mobile menu


Insights Want to boost your Rail career? 4 reasons why you should work at Atkins.

Eilidh Cant started her career journey studying Business at uni, specializing in International Infrastructure-based Development for her Master's. This interest led her to begin her career at a small civil engineering company. When an opportunity came up with us this year, she joined on permanent secondment to Atkins-CRSA.

"I enjoyed civils but wanted to work in an organization with global reach. I hadn't previously considered a career in Rail, but since joining Atkins, it's been fantastic learning about the sector and its impact. I've already had career routes explained and look forward to seeing where it takes me."

In her role as Assistant Project Manager, Eilidh's role is to support the project managers, who are already starting to trust her to run with her own programmes. She's been working on the early stages of two enhancement projects. One is to redevelop Middlesbrough Station, and the other is to increase the clearance at Northallerton tunnel.

Photo of Eilidh smiling towards the camera

Here are four reasons Eilidh is glad she made a career move to Atkins:

1. Genuine opportunities and support to develop your career

Working in Rail was something I had to think about. I was passionate about the built environment, but my interview with Rob, my now line manager, made me want this job. We got on well, and he explained how Rail is more interesting than many people realize and how Atkins is engineering a better future through transport. At the time, I thought of it as a stepping stone for my career, but I now definitely have tunnel vision (no pun intended), and I'm hoping to stay in Rail for the foreseeable.

The organization has considered what I want for my career path from the get-go. Rob is keen to get me the certificates I needed for site visits—bearing in mind that I'm not an engineer, so there was no project benefit for me to go. He just wanted me to see what I was working on, and I thought that was great.

I've spent the last four months focusing on gaining underpinning knowledge. I've had project experience before, but this is entirely different. This is about me getting to know the wider team and the practice. Rob is keen for me to do some professional development with the Association of Project Management, and when I feel ready, he would like me to head up my own projects. None of this is being forced on me. I'm being asked if I'm ready.

I didn't realize the enormity of rail enhancements. And at Atkins, the scale of projects is second to none across the country. The individual projects are large enough that you will have plenty of opportunities to gain a good foundation. Although we work in a busy environment, there hasn't been an abnormal amount of pressure, and I've had a lot of support. In just four months, I can already see a career path that excites me.

2. A place to build deeper, broader knowledge

Although project management is a skill set, it differs between industries, roles and organizations. So team members at my level have been great—for example, being quick to send me any industry-specific acronyms to help me get up to speed with project management for Rail.

I've also found it helpful that when I started, my line manager was keen for me to sit in on all his meetings where appropriate. He's been updating programmes, so straight in, I took on the responsibility of speaking to engineers and seeing where they're at with their projects. Technical learning is ongoing, and there's support at every turn. There's no such thing as a silly question.

Working with the CRSA, an alliance including Balfour Beatty and Network Rail, I enjoy excellent client-facing and stakeholder exposure. Last week I presented on the Middlesbrough project at our internal meeting. It was my first time addressing the team and project delivery manager at the monthly Work Package Management meeting.

I can’t wait to take on more responsibility for this project, and because it's at an early stage, I'm looking forward to growing with it as it gets more complex.

3. An open culture where you're valued

Before I started here, I just assumed that people more senior than you were difficult to approach. At Atkins, it's not immediately apparent by people's behaviour who's in what role or who's senior, reflected in the ethos of reducing bureaucracy. I find everyone's friendly, and there's no politics, which can be nerve-racking at big companies. For example, when I went on my first night out with the team, the directors of Rail were there, and I couldn't believe how approachable everyone was.

Directors prioritize ED&I at the start of every monthly meeting. They give engaging presentations showing that the organization is striving for equality, diversity and inclusion. While only two women are on my team, I don't think for a minute that it's by design—if they had to interview for a new employee, they wouldn't, by default, hire a man. I'm not treated or spoken to differently because of my gender.

The team has a friendly catch-up every week, and we just talk about our work that week and connect over what we did on the weekend. Quite a few of us work from home, but we don't feel "remote." We have a Whatsapp chat, and I know I could easily call someone right now for a coffee and catch up if I wanted to.

As we're based all over the country, our line manager is quite keen for us to meet up when we can. I was a bit nervous about my first team event, but my team came right over to welcome me. It was well organized, broke the ice, and we all had a good time. Although York is the general home office for my team, it's not always me that has to travel. My line manager is hoping to arrange a team day in Glasgow. So next time, hopefully, everyone will come up to see me!

4. Flexibility for your life inside and outside work

Inside of work, I'm supported by everyone more senior than me. I don't work directly under my line manager presently, but we have a weekly catch-up call. If there's anything I'd rather not address on a call, I know I can speak to anyone within my line of management.

My dog used to come to work with me in my old job, so when I joined, I had to think of her. It takes a load off my mind to work some days remotely and be able to give my dog the care and attention she needs. That said, I enjoy going into the office. Although all of my team are down south, on one of the team days, I met a couple of people from the Glasgow office who I often go in to see. I love the balance of my home office, networking at the office, and the flexibility to just manage life.

I feel everyone wants to make you feel comfortable no matter what happens. I won't hesitate to inform my colleagues if I have any personal issues. If anyone has an emergency, it's, "For goodness sake, go!" And, "Don't worry, we'll hold the fort for you." Or else, if it's just a nice day, I know I could take a more extended lunch break and work around that, and that's absolutely fine.

How about working with colleagues who will pitch in and help because they want to see you succeed?Learn more about our early career opportunities.