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Insights How we mix risk and innovation at AtkinsRéalis

Hello. My name is Paul, and I'm the Practice Director for Risk at AtkinsRéalis. Risk management is a dynamic field where problem solvers thrive on keeping projects and programmes secure and on track. I lead a team of over 50 risk managers on some of the UK's most significant complex infrastructure projects.

Peaks to projects, my journey to AtkinsRéalis

After graduating in engineering from Cambridge, I went on a climbing expedition to Nepal and successfully climbed the 5,663m high Tharpu Chuli in the Annapurna Sanctuary. On returning to the UK, I began my career designing and constructing wind farms. I then worked as a site engineer on major commercial and retail projects, earning my civil engineering chartership. However, it was only when I took a career break to study for an MBA at Cranfield University that I discovered risk management. I have never looked back - this experience guided me into a consulting role, where I progressed to director before joining AtkinsRéalis.

Paul on his ascent of Tharpu Chuli, Nepal. Standing in front of Annapurna, in the Annapurna Sanctuary

I'm building a successful and collaborative team

New joiners are often pleasantly surprised by our collaborative culture. However, this is no accident, as we recognize that this is what defines us and differentiates us from our competitors. It's ingrained into how we work with our clients and colleagues alike. This supportive environment gives us the confidence to perform to the best of our ability, driving us forward to delight our clients.

Can you share how the diversity of projects at AtkinsRéalis enriches the risk management practice and contributes to innovative solutions?

The variety and diversity of projects we work on give us insights into different ways of doing things, which drives our approach to innovation. We ensure that individuals are regularly considered for rotation to keep them fresh and bring new ideas and ways of doing things to our clients. We run regular monthly forums to share our thoughts on how we have overcome key challenges or implemented new solutions across the team. This shared learning and willingness to experiment with new ideas keeps us at the forefront of our profession.

Opportunities in risk management at AtkinsRéalis

Over the past five years, we have successfully grown our team by more than 20% per year with a key focus on hiring those earlier in their careers. We support their career development through a combination of formal training and practical experience, working closely with other, more senior members of our team to share their expertise. We have developed our own in-house Risk Academy training programme, which we continue to improve with direct input from each new joiner. By creating a supportive and collaborative culture, we ensure that all members of our team can grow and develop their careers at a pace that suits them.

Dispelling the myth: risk management is far from boring

One of the things I love most about my job is that despite having worked in risk management for over 20 years, I never stop learning. There are always new ways to do things, and every project you work on is unique. Whether it's providing support to a colleague on a detailed risk analysis or presenting outputs to senior management, there are always new challenges that keep me keen and engaged. This is one of the reasons why I am 'Passionate About Risk!'

Photo of Paul standing with his colleagues

"I'm proud of the opportunities we create for our young professionals and enjoy seeing them flourish through our supportive, collaborative, and fun culture."

Risk management is inclusive: we're responsive to change

We had a growing realization that we needed to be more diverse in terms of the team's demographics. Our team used to be exclusively male and over 35, with no ethnic minority representation. This had not been a deliberate policy of course, but we recognized we needed to change. We clearly saw the benefits that diversity would bring. So, we worked to implement a strategy to make our team more inclusive, more representative of our society, and more appealing to all ages, genders, ethnicities, and backgrounds. Our organization already had a clear policy towards equality, diversity, and inclusion, and we wanted to take a leading role in supporting that vision. This culminated in us winning the Diversity Award at CIR Magazine's 2022 Awards.

We're risk experts empowered by doing what's right

#MakeItBrilliant is a hashtag that celebrates what makes us proud to work at AtkinsRéalis. For me, it's about building trust with our clients, so we understand their goals from their perspective. It means working tirelessly to deliver against our commitments and not being afraid to try new ways of working to achieve those goals.

It's also about having the courage and integrity to do what it takes to achieve the right outcome for our clients. Sometimes, this means challenging ourselves and our clients to make difficult decisions and do what's right for the project, the environment, and society.

Find a role with our Project and Programme services team today.