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Insights How I am navigating towards Chartered Engineer with AtkinsRéalis

I am Udara Perera, and I work in the Strategic Services team within the Rail Consulting team (Transportation Division), as a Senior Consultant. Based in the Manchester office, I focus on finding solutions for clients and providing technical and strategic advice.

I studied Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the University of Manchester and joined AtkinsRéalis in August 2016 as a Graduate Electrical Engineer.  

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Udara, what do you do in the Strategic service team in AtkinsRéalis Rail Consulting team? 

As a consulting engineer, the projects I work on vary in terms of size and complexity. My main project to date involves supporting a major train manufacturer in the UK to build a train that meets the mandatory standards to be able to operate safely and also provide an excellent passenger experience.

I am the technical manager on the project and lead a team of around 30 specialist engineers and consultants within AtkinsRéalis. The projects I focus on primarily involve acting as the interface between the client and AtkinsRéalis' technical specialists to achieve the project outcome within the allocated time and budget.

I enjoy the responsibility of providing good quality and accurate advice to clients on projects that are very important to them. 

What attracted you to a career in the rail industry?

The rail industry is a highly regulated and safety-critical industry that is key to achieving net zero goals. The rail industry gives me the opportunities to embrace new upcoming technology, build experience in applying safety processes and the opportunity to work with experts in several technical areas. Working in the rail industry as a graduate engineer helped me build my transferable skills such as teamwork, project management, applying theory to practice and most importantly the ability to quickly learn on the job!  

What is the opportunity or career paths after your graduate scheme?

The graduate scheme gives you the opportunity to learn the basics of the industry, find out more about your strengths and weaknesses and explore other disciplines within the industry. During the graduate scheme, I worked within Mechanical and Systems engineering teams despite my electrical engineering background. 

After the graduate scheme, I had the option to specialize in electrical engineering, project management or rail assurance. My preference was to have a mix of engineering and project management and hence chose the assurance pathway as it would help me develop competencies for Chartered Engineer status quickly.  

How is AtkinsRéalis supporting you in achieving your career goal/path?

AtkinsRéalis has been brilliant in supporting me by giving me the right opportunity at the right time enabling me to broaden my skills and experience. AtkinsRéalis has a well-designed Development Program for all employees which can be tailored to suit your current experience and future goals. This process within AtkinsRéalis has helped me progress from Graduate level to Senior with the right support. 

The AtkinsRéalis mentorship program has helped me keep track of my progress towards achieving Chartered Engineer status.  

What advice would you give to someone who's looking to join AtkinsRéalis as an early career?

For anyone joining us as an early career graduate, I'd encourage them to have a look around our website to read about all the different AtkinsRéalis divisions, the types of sectors we work in and projects we have undertaken. This might spark your interest to work with us in a subject area that you've never heard of before. 

For example, studying Electrical Engineering opens the door to careers in railway engineering or project management! 

Our core values are Safety, Collaboration, Innovation and Integrity – how do these influence your day-to-day?

The core values are essential in my current role to deliver innovative and safe trains, by collaborating with a team of professionals with a high level of integrity. Our core values are at the heart of every aspect of our projects and when interacting with our clients. This makes us an excellent and inclusive employer and a great supplier for our clients.