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Insights How to keep the world moving with a career in Intelligent Mobility & Smart Technology

Meet Yin Ki (Kiki) Fong, Senior Engineer at Atkins, a member of the AtkinsRéalis Group. She talks to us about life in the Intelligent Mobility & Smart Technology (IMST) practice and how her work makes a difference to our road network.  

Kiki Fong smiling outside a training centre

What projects have you worked on?

I spent the first couple of years of my career working on motorway related projects. I was involved in a high-profile overarching smart motorway project, where we evaluated the traffic and safety performance. I was also part of the team who calibrated and optimized smart motorways, such as the M1 J19-16 and M60 schemes, recommending when variable speed limits should be activated and deactivated based on historic traffic data. In the past year, I have been getting into the area of traffic signal design, optimizing the amount of time traffic signals stay green with the view to smoothing the traffic flow along diversion routes.

What do you find rewarding about your work?

Having been an overseas student since Year 9, I have always been heavily reliant on transport to get me back and forth between the UK and my hometown in Hong Kong. Connecting and moving people is therefore a topic that is very close to my heart.

The consultancy work we deliver in IMST helps inform our clients of important decisions that they make to improve their services. I enjoy seeing the outcome of my work with my own eyes. It is very rewarding driving along schemes that I’ve worked on. I feel like I’m making a positive impact to the society because what I do at work is closely related to the transport network that most of us use every day.

What are your colleagues like?

They're genuine people who accept me for who I am. I have been privileged enough to have met and worked with some extremely supportive seniors. They see my potential and help me develop by generously sharing their knowledge and experience with me and finding me suitable opportunities. I have always been encouraged to ask questions and there is no such thing as a stupid question. They allow me to develop at my own pace and have always looked after my wellbeing.


Kiki Fong and group of graduate colleagues at awards dinner

How have you seen Equality, Diversity and Inclusion working inside Atkins?

At Atkins, diversity is valued. Being on the Autism Disorder Spectrum (ASD) doesn’t hold me back because my colleagues focus on my strengths rather than my weaknesses. They recognize that everyone is different and can bring different things to the team. For example, I require structure and am very methodical and logical. These characteristics do not only make me well-suited to planning and coordinating complex work packages but also originating and checking technical numerical work.

People are interested in learning about different cultures, and they respect each other. I am one of the Hiring Managers for the IMST practice. While we are based in the UK, our recruitment team is based in India. Although the Eastern way of working is very different from the Western way, we collaborate very closely and have excellent relationships. Our reciprocal acknowledgement and understanding of ED&I enable us to attract not only local but also international talent.

How have you found career progression at Atkins?

Atkins has let me drive my own career. I'm free to decide on the career path I want to pursue, be it technical, managerial or a mix of both.

Your grade doesn't limit what scale of projects you get involved in. When I joined as a Graduate Engineer, my first project was a very high-profile evaluation project for our client at Highways England, now called National Highways.

They give you opportunities to learn and develop. For example, I never thought I would become a Team Leader, but I'm now one after being with the company for only five years. They don’t spoon feed you, instead they make you realize your own potential by providing you with encouragement and just the right amount of support.

The business is also fully supportive of professional registration. While supporting chartership applications is the norm, they've also seen me through my Incorporated Engineer (IEng), European Engineer (EUR ING) and International Professional Engineer (IntPE (UK)) registrations.


Kiki Fong standing outside National Highways North West operations Centre

How do you make the most of Atkins' flexible work culture?

I struggle with the noise and distractions in the office. Flexible working allows me to work from home where I am more focused and productive. Flexible working also means that I can enjoy a more modern lifestyle. For example, I no longer have to pick up a parcel from the depot because I am now able to receive and sign for it when it gets delivered to my home during the day.

 As long as I let my team know well in advance, I can take most of my annual leave in one go, which means I can go back to Hong Kong for a month every year to visit my family. In addition, our International Flexible Working scheme enables people like me who have families abroad to spend more time with families while still working.

How do you create social value?

I was once an Arkwright Engineering Scholar and am now Atkins' Arkwright Engineering Scholarships Liaison. Atkins sponsors one scholar each year, providing them with mentoring and work experience. I thoroughly enjoy this role outside of my day-to-day work because it is a wonderful opportunity to give back. I also use my annual volunteering day allowance to support the Smallpeice Trust, which the Arkwright Scholarship Trust is now under.

Why would you recommend Atkins as an employer?

 I joined as a Graduate Engineer back in 2017. I chose Atkins over other offers because I wanted to work for a global company with the potential for international secondments and permanent transfer. Furthermore, their graduate scheme does not require rotation, which was good for me as a mature candidate who wanted to settle down.

Atkins values talent. I was unavailable to attend the assessment day for the role that I applied for and thought I lost my chance. However, they contacted me again and invited me to the assessment day for another role that they thought I was a good fit for. This was how my career with Atkins all started.

Atkins cares about their people. They provided me with support even before I started – they assigned me a buddy and gave me advice and all the documents that I needed to settle down in Manchester!

If you’re looking to transform your career, why not check out our latest roles in our Intelligent Mobility & Smart Technology practice?