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Insights My incredible journey through complex infrastructure

Hello, I'm Kiran Mistry, Practice Director in Project Controls.

I'm so glad you're joining me as I reflect on my 20-year career in project controls and leading Programme Management Offices (PMOs). I've been privileged to work across a multitude of sectors, including defence, aviation, water, and rail. My progression has been steeped in a variety of complex projects and a diverse range of clients.

Photo of Kiran smiling towards the camera

Finding my passion for construction

Believe it or not, I began my career in design engineering after completing my BSc in Engineering Product Design. I spent four exciting years in the design industry but yearned for something more. The allure of witnessing largescale engineering and construction projects from design to reality fascinated me. It was love at first sight!

This passion for "building the future" led me to a major aerospace company, where I served as a Junior Planner for the military avionics teams teaching me the importance of strong planning and controls. This career-defining experience taught me the fundamentals of project controls and immersed me into the importance of integrating cost & schedule performance, two decades ahead before it became the norm in any major programme. It felt incredible to be part of something that was shaping tomorrow.

Experiencing career-defining projects

My career took another exciting turn when I was approached to be a project controls engineer as a subcontractor on one of the first infrastructure mega projects for Heathrow Terminal 5. Within the first six months I became responsible for my own project as Project Controls Manager for the Rail & Tunnels team. I was thrilled to be on-site, directly impacting the project delivery and working closely with various disciplines and senior stakeholders. Working alongside architect, engineers, commercial managers and suppliers, made me realise how integral my role and the use of project controls is to the success of project delivery. At the end of the programme, seeing my name among those of 2,000 others on a plaque at the terminal's entrance remains a cherished memory, a testament to our collective effort and impact on future generations.

Photo of Kiran during a presentation

After Heathrow, I entered the water industry on Thames Water via what was then Faithful+Gould, now AtkinsRéalis. I assumed my first significant leadership role, heading a team of cost planners. This role stretched me, honed my leadership skills, and deepened my love for diverse, complex projects across a large portfolio of 300 schemes valued close to £1bn.

I took a brief career break for maternity leave before immersing myself again in the infrastructure world. The project this time? Building the Terminal 2 multi-storey car park and ancillary buildings at Heathrow. Knowing that our work would significantly impact millions of passengers for generations was profoundly rewarding, plus I got to see my name on a plaque at the terminal entrance for the second time.

Following project completion at Heathrow, I soon got the opportunity to take my last subcontractor role and head back at Thames Water via AtkinsRéalis to lead the Programme Management Office for the Smart Metering Programme, which required me to lead a team of cost, reporting and risk professionals to ensure successful delivery of over 500k smart water meters.

Leading as a Director

Right at the start of the pandemic, I was delighted to take on a permanent role with AtkinsRéalis as an Associate Director. Here, I took on the role of Head of Programme Controls for the East Coast Digital Programme (ECDP) and, later, as Head of Discipline for Project Controls (Transportation). Balancing these two roles, I enjoyed growing my team and contributing significantly to the sector before I became a Regional Director in 2021.

Fast forward to 2023, I am now a Director in the business and currently hold the role of a Practice Director, leading a vibrant team of all levels from Apprentices to Regional Directors with one of the most diverse teams in our UK business with over 150 professionals. It's been a fulfilling journey with lots of learning, growth and excitement alongside some of the best people I have enjoyed working with. Each day, I'm excited to continue helping our clients, supporting our growing talent and using my expertise to make a positive impact on society.

Photo of Kiran during a presentation

What keeps me at AtkinsRéalis?

This journey hasn't just been about me but about AtkinsRéalis’ team and culture that have helped shape my experiences. I've worked in and helped foster a friendly work environment where diversity, flexible working, and personal development are deeply valued by all. As a member of the Senior Women's Leadership Group and the Project Controls Technical Leadership Group, I've also been lucky to give back, mentoring Early Careers and supporting STEM activities.

Reflecting on my journey, I realize that everyone at AtkinsRéalis is building a better future for our planet and its people. Every project, every decision, and every action we take in our roles contributes to our grand purpose. I'm excited to continue shaping a better, brighter future. I hope my blog encourages you to explore, develop, and make your own impact wherever your journey takes you.

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