How did you get into rail?
When I was a trainee, I asked to work on bridges. I worked in rail for the first six months, and bridges for the second six months. It was the luckiest coincidence of my career; I had never considered rail as a potential. That was the decision made because I rapidly realised that rail was far more interesting. All the different disciplines involved gave it more potential for a wider breadth of experience.
Did you know you wanted to be an engineer from a young age?
Yes. A career advisor came in to school – I must have been about 15 – and looked at the things that I was good at and enjoyed. The choices were either a doctor or an engineer, which is funny because my dad’s an engineer and my mum is a midwife. But I knew that I couldn’t stand the sight of blood, so it was never going to be the health profession. That was the first time I’d seriously looked at engineering.
What’s your role?
I’m the last point of call between our design team and our clients. I review their deliverables before they go to clients, I check for technical correctness and multidisciplinary coordination. I make sure that all the different disciplines on the project are passing the right information between each other at the right times, so that when we get to the completed design, all of those different interfaces are covered. That might be within our design team in Arup, or it might be with subcontractors, or with completely different organisations that don’t have a contractual link to us.
completely different organisations that don't have a contractual link to us. How do you balance your home and work life?
I’ve got two young boys, aged 2 and 4, so I now work three day weeks, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. For me, that is absolutely the perfect balance. With all of my clients, I’ve made the days that I work very clear. I’ve always given them a contact that they can talk to if I’m not there. I work with great people who are really supportive of what I do. Arup is a great company and there is an acknowledgement that whilst lots of people don’t work five days, when they’re here, they do the job well. That’s what makes it worth it.
Interviewed August 2016