ExpertiseEnvironmental Management, Carbon, Sustainability
ICE President's Future Leader 2019/20
Becoming an ICE Carbon Champion
First Chartered Infrastructure Engineer (CEng MICE)
How I became a Chartered Infrastructure Engineer
My journey to becoming a Chartered Infrastructure Engineer began with my academic foundation.
I have a master’s degree in civil engineering and a bachelor's degree in environmental management and planning.
My early career saw me at the Building Research Establishment (BRE), where I dived into various global engineering projects, significantly enhancing my practical knowledge and exposure.
Following this, I took on a leadership role at Wills Bros Civil Engineering, heading environmental and sustainability for the UK.
Here, I had a great team – I got my boots dirty across our projects and drove organisational sustainability initiatives. For example, leading Wills to become the world's first UN Accredited Carbon Neutral Contractor.
This experience shaped my understanding and approach towards infrastructure engineering with a sustainability lens.
Now at AECOM, as a decarbonisation technical director, I'm working on decarbonising several industries.
My role allows me to provide expert advice on greenhouse gas (GHG) accounting to projects globally, working within the carbon and ESG practice.
I’m also completing a doctorate with Professors Francesco Pomponi and Bernadino D'Amico, focusing on carbon emission responsibility in the value chain. This further aligns with my goal of integrating sustainability within infrastructure engineering.
I was selected as one of the ICE President's Future Leaders in 2019 and now serve as a panel member of the ICE Carbon Champions.
As such, I've had the privilege to work on policy and professional standards concerning net zero carbon in infrastructure – such as PAS 2080.
These experiences, combined with my professional memberships and continuous learning, have been instrumental in shaping my career as a Chartered Infrastructure Engineer.
Civil engineering has the capacity to make positive change for the better through continuous innovation and collaboration.
A day in my life
Every day is never the same!
At AECOM, I work on a global platform. I’m involved in small and mega engineering projects aimed at decarbonising various sectors.
My days are usually filled with several virtual consultations with engineering teams across the globe.
I liaise with a broad spectrum of professionals, from managing directors to project managers, ensuring our decarbonisation goals are seamlessly integrated into every phase of our projects.
As a decarbonisation technical director, my core responsibility is to provide the knowledge and strategies for our engineering teams to reduce carbon emissions in their projects.
The task could range from calculating the embodied carbon in different project elements to advising on GHG accounting.
The global nature of my work means the communication channels are always buzzing.
Whether it's providing expert advice to a team in a different time zone or collaborating on climate strategies for upcoming projects, the objective remains clear - advancing towards a sustainable and decarbonised infrastructure.
I'm glad to have a supportive team at AECOM working with me on this journey.
We asked Chris…
What’s one great thing that you love about infrastructure engineering that you didn’t know until you started working in the industry?
One aspect of civil engineering that truly captivated me, which I only fully grasped once I delved into the industry, is its boundless potential to spearhead positive change on a grand scale.
It's not just about designs and construction: it's a global stage where continuous innovation and hearty collaborations come to life.
Being now involved in several projects globally, I'm thrilled to see how the industry isn’t just adapting but leading the charge in blending engineering feats with sustainable practices.
Which infrastructure engineering myth(s) would you like to bust?
A common myth is that civil engineering is all about the bottom line, sidelining environmental concerns.
I'm proud to be both a Chartered Environmentalist and Chartered Infrastructure Engineer, showcasing that it's entirely possible to prioritise social and environmental improvements alongside financial and engineering goals.
Our organisation embodies this ethos, with a firm commitment to innovative projects that aim for structural excellence and a positive ecological footprint.
Which individual project or person inspired you to become an infrastructure engineer?
Growing up in Glasgow, I was always surrounded by a blend of historic and modern engineering marvels.
The city's grid-like street designs and historic shipbuilding docks testify to the marks left by some of the world's renowned infrastructure engineers.
This environment naturally piqued my curiosity and seeded my passion for engineering.
My journey in the sector has been significantly shaped by the people I've had the privilege to work with.
Individuals like Pete Bonfield at BRE, Jonathan Wills at Wills Bros and Chris Young at Tony Gee, weren't just mentors but inspiring figures who embodied the relentless drive and determination to push the boundaries in our field.
Their mentorship provided me with invaluable platforms to hone my skills and envision a future where I could potentially lead and inspire the next wave of engineers.
Now, as a Chartered Environmentalist and Chartered Infrastructure Engineer, I'm at a place where the early inspirations from my city and my mentors match my professional aspirations.
Their legacy pushes me to excel in my current role and fuel my ambition to provide budding engineers and environmentalists with platforms to thrive and innovate in the civil engineering realm.
Through this mentorship and continuous learning cycle, I aim to contribute towards a sustainable and innovative engineering landscape, much like the mentors and city that inspired me.
Which infrastructure engineering project (past or present) do you wish you’d worked on?
As a proud Glaswegian, there are numerous areas of engineering history I’d like to have an insight into.
Specifically, working on the shipyards on the river Clyde to the Glasgow Subway System.
As two infamous and very different engineering wonders, I would've loved to have had an insight into the engineering mindsets and hardships faced by those working on both.
What about being an infrastructure engineer inspires you?
I have a genuine passion for the environment.
The pull of civil engineering for me lies in the blend of environmental stewardship with actionable solutions.
My past role at Wills Bros enabled me to delve into sustainable infrastructure initiatives. Now, at AECOM as a decarbonisation technical director, I can escalate this passion on a global scale.
I do so by aiding engineering professionals worldwide in weaving sustainability into the fabric of their projects.
Would you recommend a career in infrastructure engineering?
Being an infrastructure engineer is a fantastic career.
From being involved in the design of a project to overseeing delivery, or literally constructing the asset itself - each phase of works provides the opportunity to make a contribution.
Lessons from site
In my previous role at Wills Bros, my days blended office-based tasks and onsite activity.
I was hands-on with developing and executing environmental and sustainability management plans, often taking me to various project sites.
Some days, I could be sketching out temporary drainage systems for our sites, and on another, I might find myself knee-deep in mud or in a watercourse, addressing an environmental emergency.
These on-the-ground experiences and interactions with a great team were invaluable.
They allowed me to see the engineering challenges from myriad angles and provided a solid base for my evolving career.