Education and qualifications:
Level 6 National Compliance and Risk Qualifications (NCRQ) Applied Health and Safety (HSD1)
Level 3 Award NCRQ Safety for Managers
Level 5 Diploma in Construction Management (Sustainability)
Level 4 HNC Diploma in Construction and the Built Environment (Civil Engineering)
UK Health and Safety Business Partner – Local Government
What inspired you to become an engineer or pointed you towards an engineering career?
At high school I was trying to decide what I wanted to do. CiviI engineering was something that had never been promoted, and certainly not a role within the construction industry. I loved science, maths and design and applied for a place at Leeds College of Building (LCB), and as soon as I started, I knew I was on the right path. All the lecturers were fantastic, and the lessons were a mixture of practical and academic work that prepared us well for working in the industry. Whilst studying full time I decided the best way for me to progress would be to undertake an apprenticeship. I applied for every role I could find and ended up securing an apprenticeship with Halcrow (now Jacobs) within their transport planning team.
Please describe your role or position within your workplace.
After 10 years working in civil engineering on a large range of projects all over the country, I was offered a role internally at my current employer to transfer my skills to a new career in health and safety. My engineering background enabled me to make the leap across to health and safety easily. As my experience is mostly in highways and structures, I have lots of knowledge in this field, so I’m well placed to offer competent safety advice. I am now the UK Health and Safety Business Partner for the Local Government at WSP. This involves providing corporate health and safety leadership at an operational and strategic level to almost 700 members of staff across the UK.
Can you describe a typical working day?
My role differs daily, but the main elements I undertake are:
- Leading investigations into health and safety incidents
- Monitoring and reporting on key performance indicators (KPIs) as well as providing statistical analysis
- Drive health and safety culture and safety management system compliance
- Provide general support, bid support, project specific support and client advice
- Development and maintenance of health and safety policy documents and tools held in our safety management system
Are there any particular challenges or unusual aspects to your role?
As I’m sure many of you are already aware, health and safety can often be a very dry subject, so getting a point across in a way that people absorb can sometimes be difficult. It’s also not the best when you’re investigating incidents of a sensitive nature, these conversations are my least favourite! This is a really important part of what we do as safety practitioners though, and it’s vital we take learnings from the good and bad.
What do you find most enjoyable about your job?
I love working with the various teams I support; this also extends to our clients too. I also support a lot of industry-wide initiatives at policy level with various organisations which I really enjoy. I want to be someone who drives change, and whilst I’ve always got a million things on the go, raising awareness of the roles within the industry (particularly for young girls) is a cause I really care about.
Is there a great professional achievement or high-profile accomplishment that you would like to tell us about?
I feel very fortunate to have won several awards during my time in industry, including a scholarship with the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE). My proudest achievement though, was making the Top 100 Most influential Women in Construction 2022 and Unsung hero - North East from the National Federation of Builders in the same night!
What contributed to your decision to become professionally registered?
When I secured my apprenticeship, I was lucky enough to be at the forefront of the big push for technicians back in 2011. I met the past President of ICE, Jean Venables, and she encouraged me to pursue registration as an Engineering Technician (EngTech). I’d had a lot of support from my peers at work too, so I knew it was the right thing to do.
In what ways has registration benefitted your career?
Having professional membership allows me to give competent advice and shows a commitment to what I do.
How does your employer benefit from your professional registration?
I believe professional registration shows a commitment to your job, and obviously for employers this means that their staff have been tested on the skills, knowledge and experience they have, which is an important part of health and safety.
Is there any advice you would pass on to someone considering professional registration?
Becoming registered as an EngTech with the Engineering Council is a fantastic milestone to achieve in your career and shows the industry and clients that you are competent at your job.
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?
Since starting in industry 12 years ago, I have volunteered my time to talk about the benefits of apprenticeship and Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) careers to the next generation. I believe that those of us who are qualified have a duty to ensure that the next generation are made aware of the brilliant opportunities within the engineering and construction sectors. The skills shortage we face as an industry is everyone’s problem, but rather than just talking about it we need to take action!