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Insights She engineers, she leads, she wins

Meet Gemma, a senior civil engineer at AtkinsRéalis and Best Civil Engineer and Most Distinguished Winner at WICE Awards 2024! Her leadership in significant rail and infrastructure projects like Crossrail and HS2 displays her commitment to efficiency, safety, and sustainability.

Photo of Gemma smiling with the company logo

In today's #InsideAtkinsRéalis interview, Gemma shares her journey and the pivotal moments of her career transition, offering valuable insights into professional growth and innovative engineering practices. Gemma's perspective is essential for understanding leadership and innovation at AtkinsRéalis and what makes us the ideal workplace for talented engineers.

Congratulations on your DOUBLE win at the 2024 WICE Awards! It's clearly been a busy year for you. What have been the highlights?

Thank you so much! I joined the Design & Advanced Technology team at AtkinsRéalis about a year and a half ago, and my experience has been incredible so far. I decided to move from contracting to consulting to broaden my engineering experience and develop my personal and professional growth.

I'm proud to have stepped out of my comfort zone.

I enjoyed practical challenges and working on-site but was also drawn to theoretical design challenges. The move was a risk that has paid off, as it has given me quite a unique approach to problem-solving! It can be scary, but I encourage everyone to take career risks. You'll gain new skills, experiences, and perspectives and find interesting ways to actively shape your career path.

I'm especially proud of my team.

Their work on the Dublin MetroLink project, Ireland's first Metro Railway network, will make it possible to link major transport hubs around the city. Seeing challenging projects come to life is incredibly rewarding. Mentoring a fantastic team of young engineers and watching them grow into their potential has also been a highlight. Their creativity and enthusiasm inspire me every day.

How do you feel the industry has changed for women engineers and technical professionals in recent years?

The landscape in construction and engineering has evolved dramatically in recent years, and it's been exciting to be a part of that. There's a stronger emphasis on sustainability and innovation, which has opened up a lot of new possibilities and challenges. Technology has revolutionized how we design and build, making processes more efficient and projects more ambitious.

Photo of Gemma standing at client site

Additionally, a growing focus on diversity and inclusion has created a more dynamic and collaborative environment for everyone. It's an inspiring time to be in this field, with endless opportunities to make a significant impact.

What advice do you give to engineers coming up behind you?

Don't be afraid: take on challenges and push boundaries. Your ideas and contributions are invaluable. Build a strong network of mentors and peers, as these are the people who will cheerlead and champion you throughout your career. Stay curious and keep learning, as the industry is constantly evolving. Most importantly, believe in yourself and your capabilities.

My advice to women and people from minority backgrounds is especially to embrace what makes you unique and not limit yourself to fit in with others. To tackle our biggest engineering challenges, we need more people who see the world differently and drive creativity by offering fresh perspectives. We're not all the same, and together, that's our greatest strength. Embrace being different!

What might surprise people in the industry about life at AtkinsRéalis?

It's warm, welcoming, and has a strong people focus. That might surprise people who typically think of corporate consultancies as money-driven and working their people to the bone. We have a strong emphasis on flexible working, mental health, and skills development. I've always felt very supported here, and my work-life balance has never been better.

Do you think we really can 'engineer a better future'?

Absolutely. Engineers have the unique ability to solve complex problems and innovate in ways that can profoundly improve our world. From developing sustainable technologies to creating resilient infrastructure, our work directly addresses global challenges. By prioritizing ethical practices and inclusive design, we can ensure that our work benefits humanity, especially future generations. Every project we undertake has the potential to make a positive impact, and collectively, these efforts can lead to a brighter, more sustainable future.

#MakeItBrilliant, as you know, is a hashtag we use when celebrating our achievements and what makes us happy at AtkinsRéalis. What is that for you?

For me, it's the small wins that #MakeItBrilliant. I'm proud of the little victories that no one else sees. Every time a team member masters a new skill, every time we solve a problem, every time we improve a process. These are the brilliant daily steps that add up to success. Sharing and celebrating our small (and big!) wins as a team and feeling safe and open enough to be honest about our failures improves collaboration and trust. I believe that's why we have such a great work environment here at AtkinsRéalis.

Find a role with us in our Infrastructure team today.