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Insights How freedom to dip into diverse roles fuels my career innovation

Meet Jennifer, chief process safety engineer at AtkinsRéalis, based in Edinburgh. With over thirty years of expertise in process safety, Jennifer leads innovation in our industry. Her extensive experience spans oil and gas facilities to pioneering Net Zero projects. Today, she shares her story and talks about how diversity fuels careers rich in innovation at AtkinsRéalis.

Photo of Jennifer smiling towards the camera

Hello Jennifer, when family and friends ask what you do, what do you say?

As a chief process safety engineer, my job is making sure engineering projects, especially those involving chemicals and energy, are safe from start to finish. I look at everything from the design to the operations to prevent accidents and protect people and the environment.

How has diversity of experience fueled innovation in your career?

I've been fortunate enough to work in a range of different roles. These roles have allowed me to build experience from a client and a consultant's perspective, add commercial skills to technical ones, and experience different industries. Having this career diversity and understanding different viewpoints have been key to my success as a chief engineer.

My experience in operation roles, where I just had to "live with" the finished design, has given me a keen interest in the problem-solving phases and development of best practice approaches now that I am in a new sector.

"If you're willing to listen to others and gain from the range of experience that other disciplines bring to a project, your learning opportunities will never end!"
—Jennifer, Chief Process Safety Engineer, Edinburgh

What advice would you give emerging female professionals on overcoming career barriers?

Certain aspects of the world of work have changed beyond all recognition during my career. There's more awareness of the barriers women face, and support is much wider and more freely available. However, being proactive about finding a mentor and building your professional network—instead of waiting or expecting others to do it for you—still rings true. And remember, your mentor and network don't need to be all female-based. In fact, there's a real advantage in not restricting the networks you build.

What makes you feel enriched and supported at work?

My team is located across different offices and even other countries. So, we're open to an exciting range of diverse perspectives, which helps inject new ideas. In addition, I feel very supported by the flexible working arrangements at AtkinsRéalis.

Do you believe that we can 'engineer a better future?'

Absolutely, I believe we can. The sheer diversity of ideas we're developing to help decarbonize all aspects of our energy use gives me hope that a step change can be achieved. Engineers have always been creative—however, it currently feels like there's more scope to apply that creativity than ever before!

How do you drive sustainability in your role?

Working with a diverse range of insights is crucial for enabling sustainability. When we develop a project's concept and design, we consider the full lifecycle, assessing the risks and opportunities at an early stage. The diverse input allows us to enhance the efficiency of the design and reduce risk to the workers and community.

"How we work exemplifies how diversity in thought and experience is vital for driving sustainable innovation at AtkinsRéalis."
—Jennifer, Chief Process Safety Engineer, Edinburgh

What does #MakeItBrilliant mean for you?

It's a community hashtag at AtkinsRéalis that encourages us to reflect on the achievements and daily tasks that make our work meaningful and impactful. For me, the vast range of new technologies and the spectrum of projects I get involved with are central to influencing innovation. Engaging in first-of-a-kind projects, such as Thermal Aldbrough Hydrogen Pathfinder, makes me feel like I am contributing to the energy transition. At AtkinsRéalis, the large variety and portfolio don't just keep me interested. It encourages a culture of continuous learning and adaptation. It sets us apart from other companies and keeps our work exciting and fulfilling.

Find a role with us in Nuclear and Power today.