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Insights Engineering a better future in our Transportation practice.

Alex Nelson is an Engineering Manager at Atkins, a member of the AtkinsRéalis Group. Here, she talks to us about how she's helping to take the world to carbon zero and why she feels valued as her true self with us.

Photo of Alex smiling at the camera

Alex, the journey to zero-carbon is one of your career interests – how are you engineering better for the planet and people?

As an overhead line electrification (OLE) engineer, most of my work revolves around rail electrification, which is critical in reducing diesel use across the country. Seeing designs being built and helping them get commissioned brings a real sense of pride to the job, and the way our team is currently working to reduce the cost of rail electrification is really inspiring.

What kind of projects are you working on?

I've spent the last few years working on the Midland Mainline Electrification (MMLE) scheme as an Engineering Manager. This is one of the country's biggest electrification projects, and the team continues to deliver. Before that, I did OLE Basic Design work and OLE Design on Bletchley Flyover and London 2 Corby Grip 5 design. I also had the opportunity to be part of the entry into service and testing and commissioning team for MMLE KO1. The ability to work on both big and small projects and across the project lifecycles keeps the work interesting. I've also had the opportunity to talk at an IET event and brief the RSSB Energy Standards Committee!

Overhead electrification lines on a railway track

Is Atkins a good company to work for?

I joined Atkins as a Graduate, drawn by the breadth of work Atkins offers. I had already done a summer placement here so I knew I liked the people and the number of opportunities there are to continually learn. I stay at Atkins because of the chance to work on some of the most significant projects in the OLE industry, the progression opportunities - and the great multi-disciplinary knowledge base I know is always there to call on when needed.

What kind of opportunities have you had?

Atkins has given me opportunities whenever I've been willing to take them. I have learnt a lot via secondment opportunities to principal contractors and progression throughout my career, from engineering to document control, back to engineering management. The organization recognizes talent and rewards it with opportunities and advancement. For me, that's been fairly fundamental.

What's the company culture like?

Atkins is built on a culture of mutual respect for our colleagues, regardless of their job roles. This means that everyone has a voice to contribute and to challenge the way we do things, whether that be processes, engineering or safety. I know that when I have something to contribute, I will be listened to and respected. Conversely, I appreciate my colleagues in the same way. This means we continually learn from each other, which always makes going to work enjoyable.

How do you use flexible working?

Currently, I go into an Atkins office two days a week and a client's office one day a week. Outside of work, I play and referee dodgeball competitively. So, flexible working allows me to put time towards the dodgeball community, including sitting on the British Dodgeball Regulations Committee and being a refereeing mentor!

Photo of Alex smiling at the camera

How does "different make a difference" inside Atkins?

Atkins embraces differences in staff wholeheartedly. To me, differences in team members lead to new perspectives, ideas and solutions, which help us solve the problems in front of us. As a woman in engineering, I can quite often be the only woman in the room, but I don't feel like that causes me a disadvantage. I am respected for my skills and knowledge.

How have you been uniquely supported at the organization?

Atkins supports good mental health and will be there when things go wrong. Pre-pandemic, I experienced mental health problems, and Atkins supported me. It's not something I like to talk about. But my line manager helped me take a step back, and I worked from home a few days a week. The management team helped me come back in a way that worked for me and supported me while doing so. To me, that is invaluable in an employer.

Our Transportation Teams are currently hiring OLE Engineers so why not explore how you could fit in here:https://careers.snclavalin.com/atkins-rail-engineering-jobs