Following a visit in 1974 to my parents’ home villages in north-west Pakistan, I decided that I wanted to do something that would help people. Having only lived in London before this visit, it was a little bit of a culture shock to find myself in a country with little/no sanitation and where the drinking water was from a well and then needed to be boiled for several minutes to avoid us becoming ill. Not having a fridge also meant we drank lukewarm water for months!
Later in life when I working as an engineer, I was horrified at the lack of attention given to protecting the environment. As an engineer, I knew we could have a good infrastructure without compromising the environment. This was the catalyst for me completing an MSc in Environmental Impact Assessment.
My most rewarding projects have been:
- Eastern Region Road Maintenance Programme, Nepal. Early in my career, I had the opportunity to work in Nepal at the public works departments. I helped manage their maintenance programmes and budgets effectively which gave me the experience of working in challenging environments. Access was limited and there were frequent floods and landslides as a result of heavy monsoon rains and climate change.
I also saw the impact on people and through my work, the public works department issued longer-term contracts to their workers. This gave the workers more security and allowed them to make plans. This was incredibly satisfying and showed me how the provision of infrastructure can contribute to moving people out of poverty.
- Medmerry managed realignment. It was the first open coast realignment in England; and a unique scheme delivering economic growth, better access to nature for local residents, new coastal habitat and reduced flood risk. It was rewarding leading a strong multi-disciplinary team who were committed to finding an innovative and sustainable solution to the management of the coastline at Medmerry.
I lead the project from strategy through to construction, fostering a collaborative open relationship with consultant, contractor, local authority partners, and other stakeholders (including community and private businesses). This project created a managed realignment that serves as a very adaptive sea defence, works with natural processes and is an amazing habitat for birds. The project won the Prime Minister’s Better Public Building Award in 2014.
I never thought I would even become chartered all those years ago, so I’m incredibly proud of my achievement in becoming a Fellow in 2016.
Inspiring other female engineers and my daughter was what really motivated me to become a Fellow. I enjoyed the application process because it made me look back over my varied career path and reflect on how much I’ve accomplished. I was lucky enough to have the support and encouragement of some inspiring mentors helping me with my application and now I want to encourage others to become Fellows.
Since becoming a Fellow, I have changed jobs. I think the application process helped me recognise how transferable my skills are and made me reflect on the areas of work that gave me the most satisfaction. Do I feel I am treated differently? I am not sure. It is a conversation starter though and has raised some eyebrows!
Interested in becoming a Fellow of ICE?
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We also offer the option to assess your suitability for Fellowship before applying formally. If you would like this, please contact your Regional Support Team or the Fellowship Executive at email@example.com for advice. To obtain a preliminary assessment, you will need to send us an up-to-date CV (4 sheets of A4 maximum) setting out your personal achievements.
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