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Chartered Engineer (CEng)

Tina Gunnarsson MEng CEng MICE

Published: 25/10/2023

Education and qualifications:
MEng Civil Engineering, Imperial College London

Job title: 
Senior Engineer

Balfour Beatty





What inspired you to become an engineer or pointed you towards an engineering career?
At school, I fundraised for a charity named Tabitha and travelled to Cambodia to build 15 elevated houses for a small village, so their houses wouldn’t get washed away during the monsoon season. This experience helped me to realise the large-scale positive impact that engineers have on communities and future sustainability.

Please describe your role or position within your workplace.

I recently started a new role as a Senior Engineer in the Estimating Team. I am developing and implementing a carbon estimation and benchmarking methodology for our projects as we work towards going Beyond Net Zero Carbon by 2040.

Can you describe a typical working day?
I enjoy the diversity of the roles within civil engineering. Five years ago, my typical day involved being outside on site constructing a 180m tall tower. Four years ago, I worked in a design office, creating technical drawings and doing temporary works calculations. In my current role, I spend large parts of my day using software to estimate carbon emissions of construction materials, transport and construction processes for tenders and live projects. This allows us to identify areas with high carbon emissions and in turn make better engineering decisions. The rest of my time is spent in meetings: training and guiding others on how to estimate carbon, discussing different methodologies and mentoring engineers.

Are there any particular challenges or unusual aspects to your role?
Engineering decisions in construction are very often made based on cost. Trying to shift that perspective, and help people make the best engineering as well as personal choices, by prioritising sustainability, carbon emissions and zero waste is an ongoing challenge that will require big changes for both our industry and people’s daily lives.

What do you find most enjoyable about your job?
The people, and the impact. I work with a great group of supportive people who actively work to improve inclusion in our industry. I am also driven by the opportunities the engineering and construction industries have, which creates large scale positive impact. Decisions and suggestions I make at work can be a thousand times more impactful than actions I make in my daily life to live more sustainably.

Is there a great professional achievement or high-profile accomplishment that you would like to tell us about?
My career highlight and favourite project to date is the Minigo Bridge in Rwanda. I was part of a team of ten that fundraised and constructed a 36m span suspension footbridge for a village in the Rubavu region with the charity Bridges to Prosperity. The project didn't break any records, it wasn't the most incredible engineering feat or longest span bridge, but it's one of the most sustainable projects and the only project where I've personally met or played games with a large portion of the 800 children that it would benefit. It was a lot of fun to physically build, use power tools and climb scaffolding. We had a great team, and the experience positively changed me on a personal level. I returned from the trip as a vegetarian after befriending the dinner goat and started making big changes to try to live a more sustainable lifestyle.

What contributed to your decision to become professionally registered?
Achieving professional registration felt like an important personal milestone for my engineering career. It was validating to be externally verified by two chartered engineers – it confirmed that I can trust my independent judgement and know my limitations.

In what ways has registration benefitted your career?
I believe that the work you put into achieving professional accreditation makes you a better engineer in the process. I was fortunate to have been awarded the James Rennie Medal, Karen Burt Award and Renee Redfern Hunt Prize in 2020 for my chartership submission, which resulted in my internal promotion and recognition from my employer.

How does your employer benefit from your professional registration?
It provides my employer with professional assurance, maintains high engineering standards, and lowers their risk profile.

Is there any advice you would pass on to someone considering professional registration?
Go for it. The process makes you a better engineer, helps build knowledge, skills, confidence and a network of peers and mentors. From experience, trying different roles also provides a more balanced overview of the breadth of the industry and a well-rounded skillset.

Where do you see yourself in your career in five years’ time or what are your future ambitions?
My ambitions are to work on projects that align with my personal values to leave the planet in a better place and help shape the industry into a more sustainable one.

Outside work, is there any activity you enjoy doing in your spare time that relates to engineering? For example, do you participate in mentoring, volunteering or membership of other engineering groups?
In a formal capacity, I’m a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) Council and a representative on the ICE Fairness Inclusion and Respect committee. More informally, I find engineering appearing everywhere – from building shelters with Explorer Scouts to doing an off-grid van conversion and learning other disciplines of engineering (mechanical and electrical)in the process.

Do you identify as disabled, or as a member of a minority or under-represented group? Would you like to comment on what impact or influence you feel this has had upon your career?
Whilst women are a population majority, I felt under-represented as a woman in construction. This was particularly prominent when I was working on site and led me to become more vocal and active in the diversity and inclusion space. I have spent a lot of effort advocating more inclusive work environments, including championing Reverse Mentoring schemes, co-founding the SheBuilds Collective and co-hosting the Engineering Rebuilt podcast.